Offenses

December 23, 2014

Proverbs 18:19
An offended brother is more unyielding than a fortified city, and disputes are like the barred gates of a citadel.

Offenses

Did you ever wonder why the body of Christ is so often offended with one another. Think about what is at the heart of most of our division within the body. It is offenses. Out of these offenses we do exactly as Proverbs 18:19 says, we become more unyielding than a fortified city and we become close minded. What is at the heart of these issue if it is not our pride and our determination to be right.
Our pastor once shared something to the effect that religion is the need to be right, but true Christianity is the need to pursue righteousness. Why do you think many that heard Jesus, in particular the religious crowd, were offended with much of what Jesus had to say? Jesus trampled on their pride because He spoke the truth about what was in their heart. He revealed God in a way that didn’t fit within all of their traditional perimeters.
What we have to understand about offense is it usually reveals a heart condition in us. Peter swore up and down to Jesus that though everyone else might be offended in Him, he would never be offended. What resulted as Peter was confronted with being one of Jesus’ disciples was his denial. It was the testing that revealed his heart condition that he was blind too until that moment of testing came. There are many things in life we are going to want to be offended about and we may feel totally justified in doing so, but remember offenses are but a test to reveal what is really in our heart.
I love a statement our pastor recently ministered, “Offenses are simply opportunities turned inside out.” They test where our faith is, where our love is and where heart is for others and for God. When we can pass these tests of offenses then we can move on to the next level in our walk with Christ. Discipleship is not just calling yourself a Christian, it the learning of how to walk out your faith and not be offended. It is the love that can forgive your accusers, those that curse, malign, abuse, deceive and defraud you. It is walking as Jesus walked, without offense, even when He had every right to be offended.
When we can walk without offense. When can release and forgive our offenders, then we have moved past pride and the need to be right, to find true love, humility and righteousness of the God kind.

Blessings,
#kent

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Defining Love

December 22, 2014

1 John 4:8
He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

Defining Love

How do we define love? 1 John 4:16 says, “…God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.” We know that, in and of ourselves, our love is limited and conditional, but in Christ it knows no such boundaries, ‘for while we yet sinners, Christ died for us.’ The secret to loving as God has commanded us too is in the abiding in Him. That abiding love is not static, it is dynamic in its expression toward all that surrounds it. The eyes of that love are always looking to the real needs in each individual that it encounters. Outwardly men say that they need a lot of things that aren’t really even relevant to the deeper need of their heart. They might not even understand what there need is, but God does. As we walk in the love of God, we become the expression of God by the Spirit at work in and through us. We want to ask God to help us see each individual, from those in our own family to those who are strangers, through His eyes and His heart. Operating and living out of the love of God is in seeing your life as a ministry and service to those around you. Love is an open door of giving. It is often returned with ungratefulness and abuse, but it stays open because it is the avenue of God’s love to our fellow man. When we suffer reproach, abuse and ungratefulness from others then we are, in a sense, filling up the sufferings of Christ. We are experiencing and feeling what He felt. We understand the sadness and heartache for those who reject Him, while at the same time we share in the joy of those who embrace Him.
We have become a very self-contained society wanting our own space and our own things. God blesses us to be a blessing. Abiding in the love of God will often take us out of our comfort zone, as it requires that we often lay down our wants and desires so that we might meet the needs in others. For us to intimately know God we must truly respond to the love of God and become the expression of His love to others. If we are a closed channel, then we have effectively cut off the life to God to someone who needs it. God says, “that is not my love. My love extends it’s arms open to all who will receive Christ and come into Me.”
Do we really know God? For us to really know Him means that we have to be the expression of that same love wherewith He has loved and gave His life for us. Are we willing to give our life for others?
Ask God to give you the eyes to see the world and the individuals around you through His eyes and His love. Then ask Him to help you to respond accordingly. The world is starving for genuine love. You are that love because God abides in you.

Blessings,
#kent

Higher Level Living

March 5, 2014

Matthew 5:11-12

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”


Higher Level Living


What is our natural response to insults, verbal and physical attacks, slander, gossip and false accusations?  Isn’t it to fight back, justify, retaliate and begin attacking our attackers.  Suddenly we find ourselves drawn in and participating in the same fleshly ugliness of those who attacked us. We have come down to their level and are fighting with the same carnal weapons they are.  We are opening our hearts to be influenced by the same spirits that are influencing them.  

“An eye for eye and a tooth for a tooth,” some will say.  Funny you should say that because a little further down in Matthew 5:32-42 Jesus says,  “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”  

Wow, that is pretty unconventional wisdom by this world’s standards and wisdom only a few are willing to walk in.  

Why?

Because it denies all of “my” rights.  It is asking me to give up and renounce what is “mine”.  It is asking me to return good for evil and it imposes seemingly unfair demands upon “me” as a person.  It  seems to be letting injustice prevail and our rights to be taken unfair advantage of.  

When we can all walk in the principles that Jesus gives us in Matthew 5-7 it is probably a pretty good indicator that we are getting very close to being dead unto self and alive only unto Christ.  For us to willingly walk in the principles that Jesus is describing means it can no longer be about me, but only about exemplifying and living out of  Christ.  These are the principles that He walked and lived by.  The reason He could is because His heart and affection weren’t upon His natural man or the things of this world.  

We all have our possessions and things we have worked hard for.  We all have our reputation and our dignity to uphold.  It so goes against our grain to be taken advantage of or exploited or to be spoken falsely about.  

What Jesus is telling us is, there is a higher level of kingdom living that most of us never touch or  really know because we are still so connected and attached to this earthly kingdom and realm.  Many of us still think that the political candidate or president is going to determine the fate of the world, the nation and my well being.   We may believe if others aren’t of our particular denomination or persuasion of belief they are going to hell or will miss it and yet how many of us are really living these principles of Jesus?  

What we all need as believers, who say we love Christ, is a deliverance from a lot of our materialistic and capitalist ways.  They are not His ways, but what the world has taught us is true and valuable.  If we are not of this world then why are these things still so important to us?  The truth is most of us are really living out of a lower level of life and values than what Christ has called us too.  

Sometimes we don’t think much about it until we are put in those positions where we must choose between the conventional wisdom of this world and the wisdom that is from above.  If you want to really stand out as odd, even among most of the Christian community, try truly walking in the principles that Christ lays out here.  

Finally Jesus really stretches us even more in verses 38-43 by saying,  “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Jesus is calling us to a higher place.  It is not a realm where we can operate in conventional wisdom or even love with conventional love.  It  is place that we can only operate out of, by His Spirit and His Agape’ love.   It is a place where our self identity can not live; only our identity in Christ.  It is a place where we need to thank God for our enemies, because they are the only ones who can help elevate us to this realm of living and being.  Are we ready for a higher level of living?

 

Blessings,

kent

Faithfulness

August 29, 2013

Faithfulness

1 Corinthians 4:1-5
1So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God. 2Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. 3I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. 4My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. 5Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.

When we received Christ as our savior and embraced the cross, we embraced and committed ourselves to a trust. Through our faith in Christ we promised to be faithful. Even as couples, at the altar of marriage, enter into a covenant with one another, part of that covenant is the commitment to faithfulness and fidelity. Likewise we are in covenant with Christ and one of the primary attributes God desires in His people is faithfulness, unswerving, unconditional and continued commitment to their faith. God is looking for faithful servants that He can commit His kingdom, his power and authority unto. If they do not prove faithful they will abuse, misuse or fail to use what He would entrust to their care. Each one of us in Christ has been given the Holy Spirit. The Word teaches us that He gives us gifts and callings and talents. We may not see ourselves as being anything or having anything, but God has placed something unique and special within each one of us. He wants us to be faithful in whatever it is that He has given to us. Some of us are still learning and searching out what our unique talents and giftings are. They have a way of coming to the surface if you will look for them, because they are all resident in you, because Christ is in you. God is not asking all of us to be a great missionary, evangelist, preacher or teacher. It is not the prominence of what we do; it is the faithfulness that God is looking upon and that we will give account for. It is faithfulness that causes the body of Christ to function and operate in a healthy manner. What is unhealthy is when someone tries to make us be or we try to be something that God didn’t intend that we were. We can get out of God’s placement and we will most likely experience a great deal of frustration and failure if we are. We don’t always get man’s approval or even the approval of our brethren for what God has called us too, but it is important that we please God and not men. Often we can look at others and make judgements about them and their place with God that we have no business making. We can even misjudge ourselves. God is the final judge and before Him we stand justified or condemned. Far too often we try and judge a fruit before it is ripe. God is working in and processing each one of us to be what He has created us to be. Our job and responsibility is to remain faithful to Him through the process.
Faithfulness is often a submission to others who are in authority and even submission as an act of love. There will be times you may be far more qualified than one who is over you and you may find that to be source of trial and irritation, but remember ‘humility is strength under control’. Faithfulness is lifting others up and not putting them down.
A faithful man is a reliable man. One story of faithfulness that impresses me in the Old Testament is the story about Uriah the Hittite. He was the husband of Bathsheba whom David became involved with and impregnated. David, in his effort to cover up his sin brings Uriah back from the battle so that he can get him to have relations again with his wife and then the child can be attributed to him. Uriah, the Hittite is actually named among David’s mighty men, which were like the elite force of David made up of thirty some men. Uriah wasn’t the most prominent of men, but there is an attribute we begin to see in Uriah that we could aspire to be like. He was faithful to David to a fault. Normally this would be a very desirable quality in a soldier, but unfortunately faithfulness was not quite the attribute David was hoping for when he brought Uriah home to his wife. Uriah was more committed to David than he was to his own wife and because of his faithfulness to David and his men he wouldn’t allow himself to even sleep with his wife. He viewed that as a betrayal of his trust while he was still committed to the battle and the other men had to abstain and be separated from their wives. Uriah was such a faithful man that David ended up ordering him into a suicide mission that would take him out of the picture. One cannot help but admire the dedication that Uriah had to David. That is the kind of faithfulness we want to have toward Christ.
So many of us are morally and spiritually loose in our faith. We are tossed to and fro. We are double-minded, trying to be spiritual and yet operating so much out of the flesh. That is not to condemn us; it is to draw attention and awareness to the state of our own faithfulness. How trustworthy and faithful are we to the Lord’s work and the mission we have to live for Him?
The one thing I think we all want to hear when we get to heaven is the Lord saying, “Well done thou good and faithful servant; enter ye into the joy of the Lord.” Are we His faithful servants? Are we responding, as we ought to the high calling of faithfulness that the Lord has placed upon each one of us? It is not for others to judge, but one day God will judge it and what will He find in us?

Blessings,
kent

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