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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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

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

Everything We Need

September 21, 2017

Everything We Need

2 Peter 1:3-4

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.

It goes without saying that we as people and as children of God specifically, all struggle with our problems and issues.  They can come in many shapes, sizes, colors and varieties.  As many and varied as they can be, God’s has an answer for them.  When you meditate upon our scripture today, the power and potential of what is said here is almost unimaginable. 

I have to admit that far too many times I am an expert at seeing my glass half empty.  I can see all of the reasons why something won’t work or why I can’t accomplish it, but that is a pessimistic point of view.  We can look at our lives and problems much the same way and determine this is just the cross I have to bear or we can begin to lay hold of the potential powerhouse of the God that has given us all that we need for life and godliness and that Christ has already hung the cross for us to provide us with the very great and precious promises that are ours in Him.

How do we lay hold of that “all that we need”?  It says it is “through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness”.  In order for us to truly comprehend and lay hold of who we are and what we have, we have to have knowledge (precise and correct knowledge of those things ethical and divine) of Him. 

You get a flat tire going down the road, you are in the middle of nowhere and no one else is around.  Now if you don’t know that you have a jack and spare tire, then you are stuck where you are at.  And even if you know that you have it, but you don’t have the slightest idea of how to use it, then you are really no better off.  We have heard that we all have these things that pertain to life and godliness and yet many of us have little clue as to how we can lay hold of them and apply them to our life situations.  As a result we get stuck in our ruts and our problems never get resolved.  How many of us are setting along the roadside of life with flat tires?  The thing is, we have the resources to fix the problem, but we need the knowledge of how to do it.  We have the Holy Spirit of God inside of us and within the short reach of most of us there is a Holy Bible, the instruction manual of God’s Word.  If I don’t know how to change a tire, but I have an owners manual that will walk me through it and give me examples and illustrations, then I’m pretty much a fool if I don’t attempt to try to put that knowledge into practice and resolve my problem.  On the other hand I may say, “I don’t understand that stuff”, besides that, “it’s not really even my car, it’s my husband’s car, “besides that “I have my good clothes on” and besides that, “I’ll just pray and ask God to send somebody else to do it for me.”  In affect, isn’t that how we approach a good many of our problems in life?  If we don’t want to solve our problems, God says it isn’t because I haven’t given you the resources; they are all yours, but you have to Know Me to know how to put them into affect.  Along with that knowledge we need the “will and do” of His good desire for us.  The more we know the Lord, not only are we going to know what we have, but who we are.   What does this knowledge of Him empower us to do and be?  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.”  He is saying that He has given you and I the power to put on Christ, the divine nature, and put off sin, the corruption of the world caused by evil desires.  The basics of being a successful Christian is in knowing who you are and what you have.  That comes through knowledge, gained through intimate relationship and understanding, both mentally and spiritually of who you are in Christ.  The biggest reason we are broken down beside the road is because we still haven’t really traded that old Junker in for the vehicle that God wants to put us in.  His vehicle runs on a whole different set of laws and dynamics than the old one and you need to “know Him” to understand how they work.  We have all that we need, we just need to know and learn how to use it.

 

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

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

The Fingerprints of God

August 24, 2017

Jeremiah 17:7-10

“But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD whose confidence is in him.

He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.

It does not fear when heat comes its leaves are always green.

It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?

“I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind,

to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve.”

 

The Fingerprints of God

The fingerprints of God are seen upon our lives,

In ways we may not comprehend or often realize.

From the miracle of our birth and through our lives we see,

The love of God that kept us and how He cares for you and me.

 

Oftentimes we miss Him, because we are focused on our needs.

We think in doing things our ways is how we should do His deeds.

We so often miss His wisdom in this foolishness of ours.

In wanting all our sunshine we miss the need for showers.

 

Often winds of adversity are simply blessings in disguise,

Without them, there are things in us we would never realize.

Yes they may be painful and counter to our will,

But they often stop our busy tracks and cause us to be still.

 

The fingerprints of God are often dusted aside with blatant disregard,

As the deceitfulness of sin works in us and our hearts become so hard.

The touch of God is upon your life to deliver us from sin.

He wants to be the transforming love that changes us within.

 

Look for His fingerprints upon your life today.

Take a moment now to thank Him as you come and pray.

His fingerprints will change your life if you are sensitive to His touch.

He is able to transform your life where you need His change so much.

Blessings,

#kent

Still the Wind

August 23, 2017

Still the Wind

Mark 4:37-41

And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith? And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?

This picture of the disciples caught out in the rough seas with all the forces of nature railing against them and filling their boat with water can so typify our lives at times.  Most all of us have had, will have or are having those times in our lives when all the natural elements of heaven and earth are railing against us.  We are rowing for all we are worth, but our boat just seems to keep on sinking.  We can’t bail out the water and the problems faster than they are coming in.  We are using every resource available for our survival and it looks like the end is sure.  Where is Jesus?  Before, we were saying, “Jesus you might want to give a hand up here, it’s pretty rough.”  Then it was “Jesus, this doesn’t look good, You really need to help us out.”  But Jesus is in a deep sleep in the back of the boat and this entire calamity of life and our desperation hasn’t awakened Him.  Finally, we are really desperate.  We are literally fasting and praying as we shake Jesus and cry out, “Master don’t you care that we are about to perish.”  Things have gotten desperate, they’re out of control, there is nothing more we can do and we’re about to go down for the third time.  Then Jesus arises, speaks the word and rebukes the wind and everything goes calm.  All of a sudden that impossible situation isn’t impossible anymore; it just dissipated.  We stand there in utter amazement at the miracle that has just happened.  We knew all along that we had Jesus in the boat, but things got out of control and Jesus was asleep, so we started to panic when it appeared like all was lost. 

Was Jesus ever out of control?  Even while He slept could the storms of life have prevailed over Him and took His life before the Father’s time?  Many of us think we have a pretty strong faith until it is put to the test like it was for the disciples this day.  How many of us could have remained calm and continued to rest in the fact that Christ was still in the boat and if we perished, He perished.

I remember a remarkable man of God telling me a testimony of a time when he and some other pastors were flying in a plane over I believe it was over a jungle area of Mexico.  As they were flying, for some reason they had ran out of gas and all of the circumstances pointed to them crashing and dying.  As the plane started to descend many of the pastor were crying out in fear and desperation.  This brother said, “I just prayed and said Jesus if I die, you die, because you are the life within me.”  Just after He spoke that he said the plane leveled out, the engines were restored and they were able to make it to a safe landing miraculously.  What was the difference between this man and the others?  They were all men of God and in God’s service.  The difference is having the revelation of who you are in Christ and knowing that all of your life is in His hands.  The difference is that we learn and possess this truth as we release our affections from everything that is dear to us in this life, even our families and we commit, without reservation, everything to God.  Will that be tested?  Yes, we will have our Isaac’s that we may have to lay upon the altar. 

Great faith is rested in total God confidence.  Like the Roman centurion of Luke 7 that came to Jesus in need of healing for his servant.  While Jesus was willing to walk the distance the centurion believed that if Jesus simply spoke the word, it would be done.  He understood the dynamics of authority.  He knew that when one in authority spoke the word everything under that authority was compelled to obey.  He knew that Jesus had authority over sickness and death, therefore if He would speak the word, it was accomplished.  God wants us to come and know the authority of His Word and rest that He is able to accomplish it.  He is still our Christ who rebukes the winds and calms the sea and storms of our lives.  He is still our Peace that passes understanding.  He is ever the Christ that is in us, that is our life and our authority.

Blessings,

#kent

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

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