Christianity from a Distance

James 1:22-27

22Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror 24and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.

    26If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. 27Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

Many of us are resigned and content to read our Bibles, listen to Christian broadcasting or to the minister.  Mentally we agree with all that is being said, but practically we may want to avoid personal involvement.  Oh we may give our tithes, to that those who “are called” to do the work of the ministry, but then we are just the “laymen”.  Just let us live a quiet Christian life in our suburban lifestyle; let us live in our daily routines and not get too involved in the mess outside.   The truth is we get real uncomfortable when a situation comes along that gets in our face.  Perhaps there is a family crisis and someone in the family needs financial or physical help.  Don’t we kind of want to look to someone else to do that?  After all we are busy with our lives and the responsibilities we have.  We have our own bills to pay and work to do.  We often embrace the Christian message in spirit, but not in reality.  We are those Christians from a distance type of people that don’t want to get personally involved.  After all, we’ve got enough problems of our own to deal with, right?  God forbid if someone should require our help or assistance that we don’t even know.

James really gets in our face about this issue of virtual Christianity, if you will. We put on our Christian face one minute and the next, when we look away; we forget what manner of people we are supposed to be.  We favor the rich, because somehow we think it might benefit us, not likely.  They will more than likely exploit your favoritism and give you nothing in return.  We discriminate and reject the poor, because we think that they are only there for a hand out and somehow we are better than they are.  And James 2:5-11 tells us, “5Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? 6But you have insulted the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court?  7Are they not the ones who are slandering the noble name of him to whom you belong? 8If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,”[a] you are doing right. 9But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 10For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 11For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.” 

Jesus met people where they were at.  He had the capacity, as we should, to look past their faults and see their need.  James 2: 14-17 says, “14What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”  You see our armchair Christianity doesn’t qualify us before our Lord.  It isn’t the example He taught and lived.  Faith has to be dynamic, moving and alive in our being or it is just a name and a dead religion.  It has no life in it. 

God presents us with enough opportunities to demonstrate our faith and beliefs in action.  Will we continue to turn away and turn a deaf ear, or will we begin to listen and hear what God wants to do through us personally?  Will our actions or the lack thereof testify against us on the Day of Judgment?  God is calling us off the couch and onto the field.  A couch potato sports fan does not an athlete make.  The same is true of Christianity.  Our God hasn’t redeemed us to be spectators, but participators in the expression of His life through us.  It is time we get into the game and are what we claim.    

Blessings,

#kent

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Isaiah 55:6-9

Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near.

7Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts.

Let him turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.

8“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.

9“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways

and my thoughts than your thoughts.

 

When God Doesn’t Seem to Come Through

 

Most all of us that have been believers for some time have experienced times when we prayed or believed for things that ended with a “no” from God.  We were under the impression that if we just prayed in faith everything would go our way.  Many have given up on their faith and turned away because they felt God disappointed them and let them down.  They may have succumb to a sickness or disease, lost a romance or marriage, lost a loved one or experienced financial ruin.  No matter what the tragedy was to you, you felt God let you down.  Isn’t God faithful?

We need to be clear that God’s faithfulness doesn’t hinge on our circumstances and perception of answered prayer.  We see through the tunnel vision of such finite understanding.  We see only our perspective and we feel that should be God’s perspective as well.  Like the scripture says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways

and my thoughts than your thoughts.” God is not a puppet or celestial Santa Claus.  It doesn’t mean that every time we ask or pray we get what we want.  He is the Creator and operates out of His wisdom and not ours.  Do we love and trust God for who He is and who we believe Him to be or is our faith and love conditional upon God’s performance to us?  Is God’s love and faithfulness to you conditional upon your goodness and faithfulness or does He love you unconditionally?  Why are we so conditional of our love and commitment to God when His is unconditional towards us?  Usually, it is because we are reacting out of the emotional pain of a loss or disappointment.  “God’s in charge, let’s blame Him.”  Many times we don’t stop to even consider if our lives were lining up with all of God’s principles and ways.  Even if they were let’s look for a moment at the example of Job.

Job was a righteous man in God’s eyes.  He was abundantly and supernaturally blessed.  That coincided with the belief of the day that if you walked upright and in favor with God you would experience good things in your life.  Then God steps out of Job and his friend’s paradigm box and does something totally contrary to their way of thinking.  He allows satan to come in and lets everything to go south for Job.  His friends were convinced Job must have some sin in his life because that is what their perspective had taught them.  In the end when God reveals His ways and grandeur to Job, Job is undone and sees even his righteousness in the light of such a majestic God is but filthy rags.  God took away all that Job had to put something greater back in His hand.  Sometimes, even in our lives, God has to destroy our old box of thinking so that He can increase and expand us into His.

Let me give you a “Reader’s Digest” version of a personal story that illustrates this.  I took Sharon, my wife, out house shopping one day and it must have been under the unction of the Holy Spirit, because it is certainly not in my nature to house shop.  I took her across town and we went through this newly custom built home that was beautiful in a lovely area of town at the base of the mountains.  It was only five hundred thousand, which in our budget might as well have been five million, but you know, we began to believe, that what we couldn’t do, God could.  God seemed to be adding fuel to the fire of our faith by providing outside encouragement and confirmation from various sources until we became fully confident that this was the house that God wanted to give us.  We continued standing in faith until one day the house sold.  The rug just go pulled out from under our faith.  Sharon even had us to go up to the new owners and ask how long they intended on being there, because she was still seeing it as hers.  Needless to say my enthusiasm for house hunting was gone.  Had God let us down?

Over the next year or two the Lord directed Sharon to plant a seed and she did it totally in obedience to what she felt God was directing her to do not because she didn’t necessarily believed in the way it was being done.  Some months later we were gifted with thirty thousand dollars that allowed us to pay off our current house and have no debts.   A little more time goes by and we’re driving home from a delivery when Sharon spots a house that again seems way out of our league and I am not even wanting to go there.  So she arranges to go look at it and I won’t even go with her.  Perhaps I am still nursing that disappointment.  She is so impressed that she gets me to go and look.

Now before all of this house hunting I had told Sharon to write a list of everything she would want in a house.  She did, and this house had everyone of those things.  It was perfect for my photography business and was really better suited to our needs and wants than the original house we had believed for.  We put a bid on it and two other parties were also interested, but we got the house and it is where we live today.  We have loved it and have not ceased to thank God for His goodness since.  You see, God said no to the lesser to give us the better.  He truly is able to give us abundantly more than we can ask or think.  Our perspective and earthly understanding didn’t allow us to see God’s highest for us at the time, but that faith we had for the first house positioned us for the better.

1 Peter 1:3-9 says, “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.”

It is not the blessings and all the “yes” answers to prayer that builds our faith.  It is what our faith is made of through the fires of trials and testing that make it much more precious than gold.  Does our faith stand the fire of trials, disappointments, losses, persecution and failed expectations?  Are we going to still trust God when He doesn’t fit in the box of our understanding and reasoning?  Like Job, God is bringing us up into something higher that far supersedes any loss in the earthly realm.  If we are only naturally minded then we won’t comprehend that.  We will only see our immediate circumstances and judge God based on that.

Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  I always remember the verse to a song that says, “when you don’t understand His hand, trust His heart.”  God is love and you are the object of that love.  If your faith has been shaken, then know that it is to grow you stronger and even more faithful.  Even through every trial Father remains with you, for you and will only allow it to burn up the things that hinder you from coming up higher into Him.  Like Andre Crouch used to sing, “Through it all, through it all, I’ve learned trust in Jesus, I’ve learned to trust in God.  Through it all, through it all I’ve learned to depend upon His Word.”  Don’t give up, don’t give in, keep your faith, and continue to trust in Him!

 

Blessings,

#kent

 

The Power of the Life Within

 

Romans 8:1-4

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. 3For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering.  And so he condemned sin in sinful man, 4in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.

 

John 3: 17-18 says, “17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”  Jesus didn’t come into the world to condemn man; He came into the world to condemn sin in man.  Man could never fulfill the righteousness required of the law because of sin, but Jesus through taking our sin upon Himself and paying the penalty disannulled the power of sin to condemn those who receive the righteousness which is in Christ Jesus by faith.  As long as a man chooses to live in sin, he lives under the condemnation of it, but now we have an alternative lifestyle whereby we might come out of sin and walk in the righteousness of the Son of God.  Jesus became the high priest and the administrator of a sinless life.  His holy priesthood is now about life, righteousness and godliness.  His intercession in that priestly position is in our behalf to bring us into the power and authority of His life.  Concerning the priesthood of Jesus Hebrews 7:15-19 says this, “And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears, 16one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life. 17For it is declared:

“You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” 18The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless 19(for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.

There is a dispensation of power that has been brought unto those that believe through God the Father by way of His Son Christ Jesus.   We, who by faith, trust and obedience have embraced Christ, have received a calling to come up into this priestly calling of an endless and indestructible life.  That life now abides in us through His Spirit.  Romans 8:10-14 tells us, “And if Christ [be] in you, the body [is] dead because of sin; but the Spirit [is] life because of righteousness But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. ¶ Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh, For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.”  The Lord has called us to walk by the Spirit, for it is in the Spirit that we abide and walk in the life of God.

We have all heard the expression that ‘knowledge is power’.  The power to be partakers of the divine nature is in the knowledge of the Lord.  2 Peter 1:3-4 declares to us, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

The wisdom and knowledge of the Holy One and His precepts are what anchor us to His life and preserve us in a right way.  This morning, as we read Proverbs 4, it affirms this truth.  Verses 5-15 tells us, “Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or swerve from them. 6 Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. 7 Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding. 8 Esteem her and she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honor you. 9 She will set a garland of grace on your head and present you with a crown of splendor.” 10 Listen, my son, accept what I say, and the years of your life will be many. 11 I guide you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths. 12 When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble. 13 Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life. 14 Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evil men. 15 Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn from it and go on your way.”  Finally, in Ephesians 1:11-23 the Apostle Paul speaks these powerful words, “In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory. 15For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 17I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, 20which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

Today has been much scripture that I pray is speaking into our lives a revelation of what it is to know Him.  He has called us unto resurrection power and life.  For this power to work in us we must know Him, not in our heads, but in experience and in our hearts.  God has unleashed an unfathomable power toward us who believe to come forth in the power of His life, but it is only realized as we are caught up into His life by our daily walk and living.  This may seem rather out there and ultra spiritual to some of you reading, but I believe there is a dimension of God’s life that He has called us too and that we aren’t fully experiencing.  It is in the knowledge of Him.  He wants to bring us beyond a superficial knowledge into an intimate knowing of power and life.  It isn’t everyone that can hear this and not everyone that will press into it, but to him that has an ear let him hear what the Spirit is speaking.

Blessings,

#kent

Finding God

October 12, 2017

Jeremiah 29:13

And ye shall seek me, and find [me], when ye shall search for me with all your heart.

Finding God

The beginning of truly finding God is in finding the end of you.  We become less as He becomes more.  It is as we open the windows of our soul that He begins to flood it with His light.  His truth searches our inward parts revealing the areas in us that are contrary to His nature.  If He were to reveal the full extent or our wretchedness we would no doubt despair and flee from Him.  In His love, God deals with us through the process of time and life to little by little transform who we are as we will give place to the Holy Spirit to work in us and lead us to repentance in the various areas of our lives. 

Self stands more in the way of our pursuit and relationship with the Lord, no doubt more than anything else does.   This is the reason the work of the cross is so imperative in our lives, along with God’s discipline and correction.  It is the working of death to our flesh that enhances the flavor of His life upon our being.  It only makes sense that the more given we are to ourselves, the less given we are to the Lord.  Romans 8:5-7 teaches us, “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.”  I don’t believe it is God’s desire to afflict us or to try us just for the sake of seeing us suffer.  I believe it is God’s heart to bless and prosper us, but if we are not tempered in Christ we will give way to the glory of this world, rather than use our blessing to be a blessing. 

Everyday, in each one of us, God is moving, shaping, stretching, hammering, firing and working His grace in us.  We are His workmanship in the process of being fashioned in His true image, nature and likeness.  Rejoice in all things.  Find your joy in the Lord through all the stages of your life.

“Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom [be] glory for ever and ever. Amen” Hebrews 13:20-21

Blessings,

#kent

The Riches of Giving

September 29, 2017

2 Corinthians 9:7

Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, [so let him give]; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.

The Riches of Giving

Have you ever observed the principle that the more some people hold on to what they have, the less they have, while others give and yet always seem to have abundance?  It is as 2 Corinthians 8:15 says, “As it is written, He that [had gathered] much had nothing over; and he that [had gathered] little had no lack.”  I can see the principle at work even in my own life.  I tend to be rather frugal, saving up and tucking back money when I have it and yet I never seem to have any abundance.  On the other hand, Sharon saves her money, but she still spends it freely and blesses others and seems to experience no lack.  Often we don’t give because we fear our lack or we give begrudgingly out of guilt or obligation, but we can see where that is not faith at work.  This is an area that I personally want to grow in because I can see where our giving is like the planting for a harvest.  If we only have a vision of what we can eat today, we’ll never have the foresight to plant for what we will eat tomorrow.  God has placed a principle of multiplication within a seed.  By itself it only remains as one, but if it is planted and dies to itself it will bring forth in multiplication after its own kind.  Our lives are no different; we are likewise a seed.  We are God’s seed.  If we live only unto ourselves then our seed only abides alone and profits no one but us.  If we become like Jesus and are willing that our seed should be planted and die to itself, then we will eventually see a harvest that is much greater than we could ever be alone.  It all starts with that principle of giving. 

While the principle is sound and true, the sad thing that we observe is that this truth as been used and exploited over and over by Christian leaders to manipulate and raise money.  Many have become personally rich in the process.  Anyway, God will judge all of that.  The important thing is that we be wise and discerning, but not that we withhold from God our giving in every aspect of our lives.  It is not just our finances that we can give; we can give our love, our time and our talents as well.  I pray that I might be a man that will always give more than I take.  If I withhold good from whom it is do when it is in my power to give it then who is really robbed, them or me? 

God doesn’t want us to give because we are compelled, pressured, manipulated or guilted into it.  There is no blessing in that kind of giving.  Giving to God and even to others in His name is an act of faith by which we are trusting God and an act of worship by which we give a portion of His blessing to us back in order that others might be blessed.  He is honored in a joyful and giving heart. 

May all of us experience the riches of giving, because only in the giving do we find the richest part of life.

 

Blessings,

#kent

Setting your Mind

September 28, 2017

Setting your Mind

Colossians 3:2

Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.

Once there was a little girl who at young age was taken to piano concert at Carnegie Hall where she listened and watched in awe as the master pianist brought the keys alive and made music like she had never heard before.  As she went home the music continued to play in her head and as she closed her eyes she could visualize it all over again.  That day marked a turning point in the direction and the purpose for which that little girl lived.  The next day she announced to her parents that she had decided to be a concert pianist.  Her parents listened with a patient, encouraging and yet skeptical ear.  A lot of kids are impressed with something for a while, but then they grow bored or tired of it and move on to the next thing that impresses them.  This was not the case with this little girl.  She convinced her parents to get her a used piano and give her music lessons.  It became apparent early on that she was passionate in her pursuit and committed to her practice.  Day after day they would see her, without being told or prodded, spend her spare time practicing.  Even when she was not at the piano she was going through the notes in her mind, thinking upon how to better perfect a piece. That day at the concert she had made a commitment and promise to herself that she would one-day play in Carnegie Hall and in other great places around the world.  She held fast to that promise and commitment.  Through much diligence, hard work and practice she began to excel in her music ability and proficiency.  As she grew older she never wavered from her dream.  Along the way she experienced some hurts and setbacks, but it was the disappointments that drove her the harder to be the better.  Finally came the day when her dream was realized and she began to be invited to play at greater and greater venues as her fame and reputation grew.  Then one day, she realized her greatest dream of all when she was invited to play at Carnegie Hall.  No doubt her tenacity, desire and faith inspired other children that they also could strive and position their lives for greatness.

When we read through the Bible and as we commit our lives to Christ may we be inspired as we behold the hand of the Master and His handiwork, as we read the words of Jesus and behold His life.  He is our inspiration and our call to commit all that we are unto Him and begin to practice His presence.  Our goal in Christ will never be obtained through looking at our inability, our sin or our failure.  We set our eyes upon Jesus and commit our hearts to Him knowing that as He has come to live in us, He is also able to live through us in greater and greater ways, as we are able to give over who we were, into what He is.  Like the little girl, everyday means practice.  Every day we learn to walk closer to Jesus and more in tune with the Holy Spirit as we practice being in His presence and living out of His life.  He is the foremost on our minds; He is the motivation and the inspiration behind all that we do.  To be like Him, to be conformed to His image and nature, to give our all for Him as He gave His all for us, that is our dream and that is why we set our affections upon things above and not on things of earth.

 

Blessings,

#kent

Stellar

September 25, 2017

Stellar

Matthew 5:16

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Stars are made up of bodies of matter filled with gas and ablaze with glory.  God has filled the heavens with them and they speak in type of His people that will be as the stars of heaven.  When God spoke to Abraham, He gave Him a promise and He compared it with the stars.  Genesis 15:5 says, “And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.”  God is still making stars. 

The word “stellar” came to me this morning and when I looked it up it said, “1. Of, relating to, or consisting of stars.  2. Of or relating to a star performer. b. Outstanding; principal.”  I believe there is a correlation in these two definitions as seen in the people of God.  You see stars are nothing but burned out matter if they not filled with gases and set ablaze in glory.  Are we any different?  What are we if we are not filled with the Spirit and set ablaze with the glory of God?  That is what makes a spiritual star.  It is the life in the spirit that translates us from the terrestrial to the celestial.  God’s people are not only the redeemed of the Lord, but they are redeemed to be the outshining of His glory. 

Our objective is not to get all mystical, but to draw the correlation between the natural and the spiritual much as Paul did.  In 1 Corinthians 15:41-49 he teaches, “[There are] also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial [is] one, and the [glory] of the terrestrial [is] another.  [There is] one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for [one] star differeth from [another] star in glory. So also [is] the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:  It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:  It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body  And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam [was made] a quickening spirit Howbeit that [was] not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual  The first man [is] of the earth, earthy: the second man [is] the Lord from heaven.  As [is] the earthy, such [are] they also that are earthy: and as [is] the heavenly, such [are] they also that are heavenly.  And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.”  Are we getting a glimpse that God is out to change our state of being? 

In the book of Daniel this point is brought out again concerning the “wise ones” of God.  Daniel 12:3 prophesies, ” And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.”  What do these stars do?  They are wise in the things of the Spirit and their purpose is to turn many to righteousness.  What must we be as stellar Christians and men and women of God?  By definition we must be “star performers of spiritual truth and outstanding; principals of righteousness.”  Paul tells us in his discourse that not all bodies of glory are the same; even among the stars, “one star differs from another star in glory.”  While we all may be stars there are different intensities of glory and manifest outshining.  There is something to be said for manifesting the heavenly while in the earth.  Psalm 136:8-9 says, ” The sun to rule by day: for his mercy [endureth] for ever.  The moon and stars to rule by night: for his mercy [endureth] for ever.”  The earth is in a state of spiritual darkness, ignorance and sin.  It is we as the body of Christ and His ministers to be the moon and the stars that rule the night.  We cannot rule that which rules us.  Without the light that God wants to manifest through us, the world would perish in sin and darkness.  We show the way of the Lord before men.  Isaiah 6:3 says, ” Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God.”  We must be His stellar performers of righteousness and truth, outstanding and principaled in godliness.  It is only in the putting off of the terrestrial that we step into the celestial; it is only as we put off corruption that we put on incorruption.  Yes, the day of the Lord will fully declare it, but it will be the declaration of what is taking place in you and me right now.  We are His stars, his heavenly ones, and his diadems.  Let us declare His glory throughout the earth with lives that are stellar with His presence. 

 

Blessings,

#kent

An Act of Obedience

September 8, 2017

1 King 17:8-16

Then the word of the LORD came to him: 9 “Go at once to Zarephath of Sidon and stay there. I have commanded a widow in that place to supply you with food.” 10 So he went to Zarephath. When he came to the town gate, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her and asked, “Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?” 11 As she was going to get it, he called, “And bring me, please, a piece of bread.”

12 “As surely as the LORD your God lives,” she replied, “I don’t have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die.”

13 Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small cake of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. 14 For this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the LORD gives rain on the land.’ ”

15 She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. 16 For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the LORD spoken by Elijah.

An Act of Obedience

When Elijah came to this widow woman he asked of her a very hard thing, “take the only food you have and feed me first.”  I guess her only other recourse was to feed it to her and her son and then die.  Often our obedience is an act of faith.  It is something that doesn’t make sense to the natural mind and it may even seem foolish.  Nevertheless, if the Holy Spirit is speaking to us do something then we must obey.  That obedience is our seed faith that will produce the miracle that we need.  Sometimes the hardest thing the Lord requires of us is to let go of something that we consider our security and our life.  If this woman had never given what she lacked most, she never would have experienced God’s never-ending supply.

I am the kind of guy that always sees my needs as greater than my resources.  If my needs are not greater right now then I am sure they will be down the road, so I better hold on tight and not let go of what I get when times are good.   If I am my supply then I will always be in want, but if God is my supply, even in hard times I will have enough.  Our obedience in giving to the Lord is an expression of our trust that He is our supply.  We must remain continually mindful that our lives are simply a stewardship of God’s gift and provisions.  It is all His, but He has given us dominion over it.  Most of us have learned that a river flows fresh when it allows what flows into it to flow out of it, but if the water collects and stands it grows stagnant and putrid.  May we be obedient to allow God’s life and provisions to flow through us as He directs.   We are blessed, as we become the blessing.  May we maintain an open hand and an open heart of obedience unto Him.

 

Blessings,

#kent

The Blood Prevails

September 1, 2017

Leviticus 17:13-14

‘Any Israelite or any alien living among you who hunts any animal or bird that may be eaten must drain out the blood and cover it with earth, 14 because the life of every creature is its blood. That is why I have said to the Israelites, “You must not eat the blood of any creature, because the life of every creature is its blood; anyone who eats it must be cut off.

The Blood Prevails

Under the Mosaic Law it was strictly forbidden that you should eat the blood of any creature and then it makes a foundational statement of biblical truth, “the life of the flesh is in the blood.”  Imagine now how the listening Jews and even the Lord’s own disciples were taken back when Jesus declared in John 6:53-58, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. 57Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. 58This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever.”

This shook many of them to their theological core, because it seemed to go against all that they had been taught.  Even many of Jesus’ disciples turned away from Him that day.  It was because they didn’t understand the whole implication of this truth that “the life of the flesh is in the blood.”  The life or the nature of something is contained and represented in the blood of that creature.  For a person to drink the blood of creatures was in essence for them to partake and embrace a creature’s nature.  Some pagan ceremonies involve drinking the blood of sacrificed animals.  It was never God’s intention that His people would be partakers of a lower nature.  His intention and purpose is that we would be partakers of His divine nature and life.  This is what Jesus was communicating as He addresses these people in John 6.  Don’t eat and partake of the life that is perishing, rather drink of the life and eat of the bread that is eternal life. 

Throughout the Word of God it is communicated that there is power in the blood.  Animal sacrifices and the shedding of blood stood for many years as the type and shadow of the blood that was necessary for atonement and forgiveness of sins.  All of that shed blood pointed to the perfect Lamb of God that gave His life for the sins of mankind.  The embracing of that blood by faith and appropriating it to our life restored our relationship and fellowship with the Father.  We are partakers of the Divine Nature because of that blood that was imparted to us through the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus upon the cross.  2 Peter 1:3-4 tells us, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”  The partaking of an animal’s blood is like partaking of the lower nature with its evil desires that brings corruption.  The partaking of the blood of Christ is the partaking of the righteousness of God in an incorruptible nature.   The blood, the nature and the character of Christ in us is what causes us to prevail over sin and ultimately over death. 

I am reminded of a chorus from a song that we used to sing in church.  “The blood prevails, the blood of the bleeding Lamb, with power to save, just like in olden days.  The blood prevails no matter what men may say. Thank God the blood prevails!”

“Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. 11They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb

and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. 12Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.”” ~ Revelations 12:10-12

 

Blessings,

#kent

Clothed and Walking

August 31, 2017

Deuteronomy 8:1-6

Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land that the LORD promised on oath to your forefathers. 2 Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. 3 He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. 4 Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. 5 Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the LORD your God disciplines you.

Clothed and Walking

If we truly want to know God’s provision in every circumstance in our lives then we must experience what it is not to have.  We have to experience the night before we truly appreciate what it is to have the light of day.  Often we don’t always understand the things we must go through, the losses that we must endure and why sometimes God doesn’t seem there for us.  We all have our own wilderness journey in one form or another.  Through it all we have been tested to see what was in our hearts.  Would we continue to trust God, even when He didn’t seem to show up, meet our need or answer our prayer?  When things didn’t go our way, did we blame Him?  Many of life’s heartaches and hardships have really tested us to see when we couldn’t understand His hand would we trust His heart.  Yet in those times as we look back, we see the subtle grace of God at work helping us, comforting us and giving us strength when we had no more of our own. 

Some of us are at this place in our walk right now.  We are struggling with finances, with health, with relationships or job issues.  Sometimes we reach that point where we want to just rebel, get mad or give up.  Your heart is being tested.  It is not out of meanness or lack of caring, but when a muscle is stretched and pushed beyond limits, it must continue to grow in order to meet the demands placed upon it.  It is not easy.  It is painful.  What we forget is that we are not just an ordinary people, we are an extraordinary people.  We are becoming that because God is taking us the extra mile and stretching us beyond our human limitations.  He is preparing us for extraordinary times. Yet as we will respond to Him in faith and obedience, we see His grace at work in supernatural ways in other areas of our life. 

God is separating us from our reliance upon our flesh and our dependence upon this world.  He is stretching us to know supernatural provision and strength.  We don’t find that when we are in pursuit of worldly goods or earthly fame and significance.  We find it in the humility of walking in His discipline and discipleship.  We will never fully appreciate the bread that is our provision until we first pursue and find the bread that feeds our spirit and our soul.   We could say, “seek ye first the bread of life, and all these things shall be added unto you.”  Jesus tells the followers that pursued Him after He fed the multitude in John 6:26-27, “Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. 27Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.” Jesus is the fulfillment of that manna which came out of heaven, the king and the kingdom of God.   It is not in the attainment of physical needs and wants that we are filled and completed, it is in our partaking of Him in personal relationship, faith and obedience that we find the true bread of life.  When you have truly found Him, then all of your superficial needs are met as well.   That need that we have is not always seen and met in the present tense, but it is met in faith as we embrace Him.

God is our loving heavenly Father who disciplines us as His sons.  He is often willing that our flesh would suffer so that our spirits may grow.  Most of us are, a here and now kind of people.  We are most concerned with what we are facing right here and right now.  Be not concerned with the cares of the moment, God is seeing you in a much greater role, one in which you must be tested, tried and proven.  That is just as He was doing in Joseph when through years of suffering and hardship, God was all the time preparing Him for leadership and government.  Could Joseph have faithfully and adequately done what he did for Egypt, if God had not prepared and raised Him in His purpose through strong discipline and adversity?  Like he told his brothers, “What you meant for evil, God meant for good.”  You may think the devil is out to destroy you, but what he would mean for evil, God will use for good.  Romans 12:12 exhorts us, “Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer.”  If you are enduring the discipline of the Lord, then rejoice, because God has marked you for better things.  What He has called you too, He will prepare you for. 

We are no longer walking in this worldly economy as kingdom people are; we are walking in a kingdom economy and for a kingdom purpose.  In this journey God will clothe you with His righteousness that will not wear thin and He will put the strength in your feet to walk the walk of the cross as He shods them with the preparation of the gospel.  We are people that are rich beyond measure, but our riches are not measured by earthly standards.  God is our standard and in Him there is no lack or weakness.  Let us pursue Him who is our bread of life, provision and godliness.  In Him we will know no lack.  Even in our correction He will sustain us. 

 

Blessings,

#kent

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