Drawing Near

February 17, 2015

James 4:7-10
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

Drawing Near

James gives us a strong admonition here reminding us prior to these scriptures that our friendship with the world is enmity and rebellion against Him. His Spirit is jealous over us as His possession. It is His will and desire that we honor Him with the fidelity and faithfulness of our hearts. If we wonder why we are in such a state of disconnect with our God this may well be why. A sanctified people are a separated people. We are disassociating with the world, its standards and its ways as we consecrate ourselves to the Lord’s service and His purpose.
James now admonishes; do you want to get back into right relationship with your Lord? Do you want to know His fellowship and closeness again? It first starts with submission. Until we are willing to submit our self-life to Him we are going to be double-minded and adulterous in our thinking and doing. First, we must submit ourselves through repentance and consecration of our lives and wills to Him.
We should know up front that if we have been allowing the devil access into our lives then just because we change our minds and hearts doesn’t mean he easily gives us up or leaves us alone. Temptation will come which brings us to Jame’s second admonition, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” When the devil tempted Jesus in the wilderness, He resisted the devil by speaking the Word, “It is written…”. Our power to resist the devil is never in our reasoning or rationalizing with him. He knows how too artful twist the Word to pervert it to his own ends. Resist the devil by standing on the truth and declaring it over your life and circumstances. As an example, do you know that Romans 8:37 declares, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” This word, “more than conquerors” in the Greek is hü-per-nē-kä’-ō. This word indicates no small win, but a great, pre-imminent and surpassing victory. This word indicates you just kicked the stuffing out of your adversary. It wasn’t even close. Your victory in Christ is so superior, overwhelming, and indisputably complete. In your resistance of the devil come into complete identification with the Victorious One and stand on your complete victory through Him who is completely and utterly victorious over all the powers of sin and the devil.
Thirdly, “come near to God and He will come near to you.” This passage is all about the restoration of that fellowship and unity that has been broken because we have been double-minded, trying to please ourselves and please God also. It is like dating another while you are married to your wife or husband. Your spouse is jealous over you because you have entered into a covenant with him or her, promising to forsake all others. If you want right relationship, you have to be single in your love and affection for that spouse. We are espoused to Christ and our covenant, sealed in the blood of Jesus and the earnest of His Spirit, is with Him.
Fourth, purify your hearts and wash your hands. Separate yourself from all impurity of spirit, soul and flesh. Renew your mind through the washing of the water of the Word and put away from you all impure and unholy things. The hands speak of our works and doings. When we wash our hands we are separating and cleansing them from the works of iniquity. We are choosing rightly and doing the works of righteousness.
Fifth is the change in the attitude of our heart. In verses 9-10 we are reading about a true attitude of repentance, not just in our heads, but in the inner depths of our heart. This is a deep cleansing act of repentance where we become very grieved over our sin and rebellion. We have a true revelation of how we have called ourselves Christian, but have been anti-Christ in our behavior and compromise. This is an attitude much like Peter had after he realized he had just denied and forsaken his Lord. Because of the repentance of his heart and his willingness to humble himself the Lord forgave and restored Peter. He will do the same for us if we will get our hearts right before Him.
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you, but recognize, acknowledge and do what is required so that you may have a right relationship with your Lord again. God is in the business of restoration, so no matter how far you have wandered or how much condemnation you may feel, Jesus wants to restore you to right fellowship and relationship with Him again. Just honestly, completely and without reservation give back to Him your whole heart, mind and soul. His blood will wash you. His Word will renew your mind and His Holy Spirit will lead you into all truth if you will turn your back on all of the past darkness. He loves you with a complete and unconditional love. He abides faithful, even when we are faithless. Draw near to Him and He will draw near to you!

Blessings,
#kent

Guard Your Heart

September 25, 2014

Guard Your Heart

Proverbs 4:23
Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it [are] the issues of life.

What is the heart of a person and why is it important to keep it? Most of us know that when the Word speaks of the heart it is in the figurative sense, but just as the heart is the primary organ of natural life, so it is in the spirit. Our heart speaks of our soul, our mind, the inner man, the seat of our understanding, will and emotion. It is really the key component that identifies who we are as an individual person and personality. When we understand that, then we understand why the Word is exhorting us to keep, guard and watch over our heart with all diligence. This diligence conveys a meaning as one would watch or guard in a prison. Perhaps it is so necessary to watch over our hearts in this manner because Jeremiah 17:9-10 tells us, “The heart [is] deceitful above all [things], and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the LORD search the heart, [I] try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, [and] according to the fruit of his doings.” When the Lord searches our heart what does He find? When he tries the reins of our heart; are we like the sensitive and well trained horse that responds to his every gentle nudge and direction. Or, are we the wild rebellious stead, set upon our own freedom and our own way, unbridled in our affections and passions, bent on our own direction?

We need to be watching, even with a heart that is given to the Lord and in love with Him. Things of the world and our imaginations and desires can begin to creep in subtly, almost without detection. We know that we have an adversary, the devil, who stalks like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. What makes us vulnerable to him? It is our heart. It says, “for out of it are the issues of life.” What happens to your circulatory system when it develops a blockage or even worse your heart? Your physical life can be in serious trouble and the same can happen spiritually.
How do we guard our hearts? We continually hold ourselves up to the mirror of God’s Word. We know that if we are aligning ourselves with it in every respect then our heart is abiding in truth. Hebrews 4:12 tells us, “For the word of God [is] quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and [is] a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
We also covet and pray for the Holy Spirit’s help in keeping our hearts, because He can show us the things we can’t see in ourselves. He is our hope and companion in the process of spiritual renewal and transformation that we desire to take place in us. 2 Timothy 1:14 says, “That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.” It is Spirit of Christ in you, in union with your spirit, which must be the heart and mind, which you now live out of. As you do, those are the issues of life. What goes forth out of you is his Spirit-life. Our tongue and our actions are the best indicators of what is really in our heart. Jesus tells us in Luke 4:65, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.”
Remember to not let your guard down, become complacent or be filled with apathy. You are a life-giver and in order for the issues of life to flow forth from you, you must be abiding in and carefully guarding the life of the spirit within you. “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it [are] the issues of life.”

Blessings,
#kent

Lift Up a Standard

June 20, 2014

Lift Up a Standard

Matthew 6:13 (NLT)
And don’t let us yield to temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

All of us have had strongholds and weaknesses in our lives in which we were prone to sin and perhaps still are. When we came to Christ we found the truth of Ephesians 4:8, “Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.” Jesus suffered and died to break the power of the enemy over our lives. He bound the strong man of the house (satan) and loosed the captives held in sin and bondage. That was you and I. Romans 6:22 says, “But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.” And Romans 8:2 says, “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.”
How many of us have enjoyed the freedom we found in Christ, then one day have satan show up on the doorstep of our soul with the temptation to partake again of those things from which we had been set free? James 1:13-16 says, “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. Do not err, my beloved brethren.” So we know the temptation doesn’t come from God, but many of us know the slippery slope it has led us too and many of us have slid down that slope, feeling the shame and disgrace of again giving place to those temptations that led us into sin.
Jesus told his disciples when they were in the Garden with him just before the Passion, “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed [is] willing, but the flesh [is] weak. (Matthew 26:41).” The flesh we live in is our weakest link in living a victorious life in Christ. While we have been set free from the sin nature, the power and temptation of sin can still influence our soul as it stirs up those former passions and desires. Jesus said this in Luke 12:39, “And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through.” If you are the good man of your spiritual house and you knew that at a certain time satan was going to come to you with a particular temptation, you would prepare for it and strengthen and fortify that area so that you would not yield to that temptation. Check the doors of your spiritual house. Have we left an access open, windows or doors for temptation to find its way into our house? Have we failed to rid our lives of all the avenues that sin can again have access into our souls? Lock the windows and doors of your soul, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: (1Peter 5:8).” This is why we must watch and pray always, maintaining a vigil against the temptation that wants to come and entice us back into sin. The spirit man in us must be the strong man in our house as we are identified with Christ and each day we are to be walking in the revelation of our union and oneness with Him.
Isaiah 59:19 says, “So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in, like a flood the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him.” That standard is the Word of God and our faith in it. As Jesus used the Word to defeat devil’s temptations in the wilderness, so it is our standard by which we establish in our own hearts the righteousness upon which we stand.
Have we slipped back into those former sins? Are we tempted to do so now? The blood of Jesus is there to provide the way back. God does not want us beaten down by the condemnation of our failures; neither does He want us to remain in them. Reach out and take hold of the hand of Jesus. He is there to pull us back out of that miry clay and set our feet again on solid ground. 1John 1:9 is His outreached hand of grace to us, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” We must find our victory, not out of condemnation, but in the love of whose we are. Wrap your spiritual arms around Jesus, let Him be the passion and desire that is above every other. Satan will come knocking at our door, but 1Corinthians 10:13 says, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God [is] faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear [it].” Run away from the temptations that comes your way and run into the arms of Jesus that He might show and provide for you the way of escape. He is our standard, our banner and our victory.
The Word of God gives much mercy and grace to be forgiven and to turn from our sin, but it never gives us justification and excuse to continue abiding in it. It is where we change our direction, not our pretense of righteousness while we continue in sin.
Pull up all of those markers where sin has marked our life. Make a righteous declaration of faith based on what the Word of God says we now are in those places in Christ Jesus. Allow righteousness define you, where sin once defiled you.
When we harbor the fugitives of our repentance we are still in collaboration with the enemy of our soul. You can’t conquer the ground in the places where you are still giving place to the enemy.
True Christianity is not an ideology or a theology, it where we walk as Christ walked and where His Word becomes flesh in us. If we love God we will keep His commandments.

Blessings,
#kent

Strife

November 22, 2013

Strife

1 Corinthians 3:3
for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?

Isn’t it unfortunate that this statement so often defines us as we try to walk and live spiritual lives? Strife comes into to pollute so many of our relationships, both spiritual and natural. Really it is the outward manifestation of an inward condition. James 3: 14 and 16 in the King James version speaks of strife with this: “But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth… “For where envying and strife [is], there [is] confusion and every evil work.“ The Amplified version identifies more of the root causes of this strife, “But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth… For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.” Verses 17-18 of the Amplified version goes on to say, “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. 18 Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” We all know what it is like to be around a contentious person that is trying to provoke strife. It is often difficult to ignore and continually walk away from because it is continually antagonizing and provoking you. Strife is described in Galatians 5:20 as an attribute of the flesh, but it is one that has a hard time existing by itself. It needs someone to partner with. It needs an adversary and someone to contend with. It loves company and to get others caught up in the fray.
What are strife’s root causes? James has already identified bitterness, envy, selfishness and self-seeking. Proverbs 15:8 says, “A wrathful man stirreth up strife: but [he that is] slow to anger appeaseth strife.” Proverbs 16:28 says, “A perverse man sows strife, and a whisperer separates close friends.” Proverbs 17:14 tells us, “The beginning of trouble is like letting out water. So stop arguing before fighting breaks out.” Have you ever noticed how strife can result in a diarrhea of the mouth? We get started and before we know it, all kinds of putrid things are spewing out, which usually only serves to bring the same vile venom out of the other’s mouth.
We know that the perpetrator of this strife is demonic in nature and spirit, and yet we so easily fall into the snare that serves to only hurt, divide separate us. Disunity and strife strikes at the heart of family, fellowship and community. It has destroyed families, marriages, churches, and nations. It is at the root of our wars. In spite of its immensely destructive power we continually allow ourselves to be manipulated by it. Perhaps it is destroying the relationship you have with the person or persons you started out loving. It can only be stopped as we realize and acknowledge within ourselves the weakness and the flesh that is giving place to this deceptive destroyer. It needs our flesh to feed off of to even exist. The more we can enter into Christ and walk by the Spirit, the less power and influence it can have. It needs our ego, our pride, our selfishness, our jealousy and envy. It needs our anger, meddling, gossiping, and tattling to fan its flames.
Philippians 2:2-4 says this, “2Then give me true joy by thinking the same thoughts. Keep having the same love. Be as one in thoughts and actions. 3Nothing should be done because of pride or thinking about yourself. Think of other people as more important than yourself. 4Do not always be thinking about your own plans only. Be happy to know what other people are doing.” Strife has very little to build on when our motives are based in unselfish love toward one another. If we all have this mind to live for and bless one another, then the flesh has little place because our selfishness and pride aren’t in the way. Love the person that is so intent on striving against you. Return good for evil, compliment for insult and be of a gentle and quiet spirit. It is a spiritual battle waged through human agents. See it for what it is and let the weapons of your warfare not be natural, but mighty through the Spirit to the tearing down of strongholds.
Moses lost his entrance into the promise land because he responded out of the flesh to the strife of the people at the waters of Meribah in the wilderness. Responding to strife in the flesh will always cause us to lose by robbing us of the higher way. Let love rule in your hearts, mercy and peace in your actions and willingness to count others above yourself in your thinking.
“Blessed [are] the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” (Matthew 5:9).

Blessings,
kent

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