The Refiner’s Fire

November 5, 2014

Hosea 6:1-7
“Come, let us return to the LORD. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds. 2 After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence. 3 Let us acknowledge the LORD; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.”
4 “What can I do with you, Ephraim? What can I do with you, Judah? Your love is like the morning mist,
like the early dew that disappears. 5 Therefore I cut you in pieces with my prophets, I killed you with the words of my mouth; my judgments flashed like lightning upon you. 6 For I desire mercy, not sacrifice,
and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings. 7 Like Adam, they have broken the covenant— they were unfaithful to me there.
The Refiner’s Fire
Today is the day of preparation of the people of God. There is judgement, sifting, exposure and revealing of the inner thoughts and the intents of our hearts. He is sifting out our flesh, the religious junk that has a profession of godliness, but is full of defilement and hypocrisy. God is judging His house, not out of anger, but out of love. If He has torn us apart, it is so that He might heal us. If He has injured us it is so that He may bind up our wounds. For whom the Lord loves He chastens. He disciplines us for our own good that we may share in His glory (Hebrews 12). A prerequisite for glory is most often suffering. Romans 8:17 tells us, “Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” Suffering is like the antiseptic that boils out and disinfects the wounded areas of our lives that have become contaminated with the bacteria of the world. It is what brings our focus upon the healer and the restorer of our souls. Is it pleasant? No, but it brings about an inward working of righteousness, because our dependencies and focus are no longer upon ourselves, but upon the Lord in the midst of our need.
Using the principle from 2 Peter 3:8, “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day [is] with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day,” we can see a truth unfolded. In verse 2 of Hosea 6 it says, “After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence.” The last two thousand years the Church has grown and functioned actively in the earth, but our sights have not been on the joy of our everyday struggles, but upon the coming day of the Lord. Chronologically we have entered into that third day. It is as Jesus was in the earth for two days, but on the third day He was restored and resurrected. This is the day of our restoration and resurrection that we may live in His presence. The Lord also says Ephesians 5:27 that there is a quality that He is looking for in His bride. “That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” I don’t know that any of us would argue that the Church has been without spot or wrinkle in physical appearance. The Lord see us pure and spotless through the blood of Jesus, but the in-working of that righteousness is like it was for Jesus, “through the things we suffer.” Through that process He is bringing us through the fire and into the blessing. “Let us acknowledge the LORD; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.” We still hold fast to the promise of His presence.
Today I believe we stand in the place of John the Baptist declaring the kingdom of God, giving a call to repentance and saying “Make straight the way of the Lord.” It is as Malicai 3:1-5 declares, “”See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the LORD Almighty.
2 But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. 3 He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the LORD will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, 4 and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the LORD, as in days gone by, as in former years.
5 “So I will come near to you for judgment. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive aliens of justice, but do not fear me,” says the LORD Almighty.”
The Lord is preparing a royal priesthood, no longer offering up the blood of goats and bullocks, but the offering of righteousness. It will no longer be the sacrifices of works and religion, but it will be the mercy, love and compassion of the Lord. The imprint of the name of Jesus will be upon us and the fragrance of His nature will emanate from us.
Endure the time of hardship and suffering. Allow it to have its perfect work in you that you may be transformed and purified by its fire. For you are being brought forth as pure gold and refined silver. There shall be no more dross in you.

Blessings,
#kent

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Inward Garments

November 1, 2013

Isaiah 61:3
…The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness…

Inward Garments

You know our moods; our dispositions, our attitudes, our outlook on life and our demeanor are all clothing and garments of our soul and spirit. The inward man has a wardrobe just like the outward man. So what kind of garments are we wearing on the inside of us today?
When life is going well and things are prosperous and easy, it is not so hard to have a good disposition. What about those days, weeks or even years when we have endured heartache, disappointments, afflictions, hurts and the heaviness of life weighs down upon us, oppressing and depressing us? It is hard to have joy in the midst of sorrow and it is hard to rejoice in pain, but we will identify and outwardly take upon us the fashion of our inner clothing.
God has given us the ability in these times to be able to change our inner garments. It starts with the faith of who He is. It takes our eyes off of the natural circumstances, the very seemingly real feelings of despair that we have, and it looks upon the promises of our faithful God. Faith reaches out and grabs hold of God’s Word and life and then the exercise of that faith begins to change the fabric of our mournful state by declaring what God has said. It looks at those things that are not and speaks to them as though they are. Faith remembers 1Corinthians 1:28 that says, “And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, [yea], and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are.” Faith looks and remembers what God says in Isaiah 46:8-11, “ Remember this, and show yourselves men; Recall to mind, O you transgressors. 9 Remember the former things of old, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure,’ 11Calling a bird of prey from the east, The man who executes My counsel, from a far country. Indeed I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass. I have purposed it; I will also do it”. Faith looks upon an ever-living and ever-faithful God and it begins to open its mouth in praise. It declares as Paul does in 2 Corinthians 4:7-18, “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. 8 We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— 10 always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. 11 For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So then death is working in us, but life in you. 13 And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed and therefore I spoke,”we also believe and therefore speak, 14 knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you. 15 For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God. 16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” Faith fixes it’s eyes upon what God has said and promised and not upon the hard place that it is in. Praise begins to declare the majesty and the promises of the Almighty and of His Son, Jesus Christ. It looks up and sees the heavens open and joins chorus with the angelic host that worship before the throne. Praise puts upon us a royal and priestly garment that is the proper apparel for approaching the throne of God.
Praise and worship changes our demeanor and our spiritual garments. It gives us beauty for ashes and the oil of joy for mourning that the name of the Lord might be glorified. The world has to wonder at people that can demonstrate such joy in such a pitiful earthly state. It is because they have looked upon their Redeemer who lives. They see the heavens opened and the garment of praise has brought them before the King of Kings and into the joy of His presence.

Blessings,
kent

Deliverance of the Afflicted

Psalms 107:8-15
Oh that [men] would praise the LORD [for] his goodness, and [for] his wonderful works to the children of men! For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness. Such as sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, [being] bound in affliction and iron; Because they rebelled against the words of God, and despised the counsel of the most High: Therefore he brought down their heart with labour; they fell down, and [there was] none to help. Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, [and] he saved them out of their distresses. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and brake their bands in sunder. Oh that [men] would praise the LORD [for] his goodness, and [for] his wonderful works to the children of men!

There are many reasons we go through trials, tribulation, sicknesses and afflictions in life. One of the things Jesus told us was that in the world we would have tribulation, but to be of good cheer for He overcame the world. Our trials and afflictions are not the more pleasant part of our life, but they can serve a valuable purpose.
Throughout the Old Testament we see the Israelites often suffering affliction due to sin or disregard for God’s order and way of doing things. There are times we see the Lord being pretty severe and exacting in His requirements Affliction and trials can do one of two things, either it causes us to seek and pursue God harder or we turn away from Him altogether.
What we are looking at here is a principle and reason why God deals with us at times through afflictions and trials. This is not about bringing condemnation on anyone because they are in this place. There are various reasons we go through trails and afflictions, our willfulness and rebellion is one of those. Let each of us search and judge their own heart in regards to what is shared here. One of the things I found in my own walk as I look back at perhaps specific times and circumstances where I went through an affliction that I felt like was a correction from the Lord. It was to deal with me in areas that I was in willful disobedience to Him. It is like the shepherd who has a lamb that keeps wandering off from the flock. Despite many warnings, exhortations and scolding it continues to venture off doing its own thing. The shepherd knows that this lamb, left to its own self-willed ways, is venturing into areas that it can become a victim and prey of the enemy of the beasts that look for weakness and separation in the flock and one they can single out for destruction. So out of loving concern for this lamb the shepherd does a harsh thing, he breaks the little lamb’s leg. Then he binds it up, anoints it and carries that lamb with him in his arms everywhere he goes. In that place of affliction that lamb learns about a place of intimacy and relationship with the Shepherd that it had never known or had before. There it learns the true character and nature of its Shepherd who cares for it, loves it, and personally tends to it during its time of healing.
Haven’t we all gone astray, each of seeking our own will and way in life? Many of us can relate with this little lamb and are perhaps in that place where we are despising God’s way as we pursue our own. In that place of trials and affliction that pain focuses our attention. Hebrews 12:5-8 brings this point of correction home to us as it says, “And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.” I shutter to think where I would be today if the Lord hadn’t loved me enough to discipline and correct me so that He might put my feet back on a right path. Yes, there are times when my Shepherd has had to break my leg because of sin and rebellion, but thank God He loved me enough to do it. God often brings us to that place where our soul is lean and hungry, where we feel the bands of affliction and iron upon us. When we finally are willing to acknowledge our state, our weakness, our desperate need for our Savior and begin to cry out in our affliction, He hears our cry. It is in the place of true repentance He is able to bring us ‘out of darkness and the shadow of death, and brake their bands in sunder. Oh that [men] would praise the LORD [for] his goodness, and [for] his wonderful works to the children of men!’
Are you in that place of affliction today? The Lord is present, not to condemn you, but to restore you to righteousness. You are His own and He loves you dearly. There are none more precious in His sight. Jesus would leave the other ninety-nine sheep just to find the one that is lost. That affliction may be your call to come home, to find that safe, warm place again in the arms of Jesus who has loved you unto death. ” Oh that [men] would praise the LORD [for] his goodness, and [for] his wonderful works to the children of men!”

Blessings,
kent

Provoking to Good Works

January 29, 2013

Provoking to Good Works

Hebrews 10:23-24
Let us hold fast the profession of [our] faith without wavering; (for he [is] faithful that promised; And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:

Our faith in Christ is such a precious thing. It is what opens salvation’s door to the riches and treasures of abundant and eternal life. Faith is not a one-time exercise, but it is the exercising of our faith that grows us to walk into all that God has promised us. By faith are we are justified and by faith we please God. Our faith is much more precious than gold, not only to us, but to God as well. He wants that faith nurtured and grown in the same way we would raise a child through the various stages of life. As a parent we would protect them and seek to insure their right and safe development.
God is jealous over us. He fervently loves us, but he knows our frame. We often get on our exercise programs and we are all psyched up about losing weight and getting stronger. A short time goes by and we fizzle out and go back to our old habits. We can treat our faith and commitment to God the same way. Life may bring its trials and tragedies or even persecutions against us until one day we find ourselves weary and laying down the good fight of our confession. Perhaps this fits many of us; we are so caught up in life, making a living, the demands of a career, raising a family and the cares of life that God slips quietly into the background of our lives. If this is where we are at then we are out of the will of God and what He wants for us. I know this because I have found myself in these places and must guard carefully not to return there. God is sounding a trumpet in our hearts and in our land. It is a call to action. He is calling us out of those places where our faith has fainted and grown weak. We can turn a deaf ear and continue on our way or we can listen to what the Spirit is speaking in our heart and know that God is serious about us and where we are in our walk with Him. Galatians 6:9 “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” Hebrews 12:3 “For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. ”
Romans 13:11 “And that, knowing the time, that now [it is] high time to awake out of sleep: for now [is] our salvation nearer than when we believed. ”
Our God wants to provoke our faith to action and good works. We have to awake out of our complacency and realize our faith is not just another compartment of our lives, it is our life. It is what we are about and what we need to be living for. Everything in us should centered around our faith.
The Lord brought something to mind that I hadn’t thought about before. Growing up and even now, at times, I am a provoker. Without even realizing what I am doing I can begin pushing someone’s buttons and get them upset. Now that is not an admirable quality and one that has caused others and myself a lot of grief over the years. But if it can be used in a negative sense why can’t it be used in a positive sense. This scripture in Hebrews 10 is telling us that God wants us to be provokers. Perhaps that is why the Lord has had me start writing these little words each day to first provoke my own faith and then in turn to provoke the faith of others who may read these. This is a calling we all have, not just to stir up our own faith, but to stir up one another. Even as Paul was provoking and stirring up Timothy in 1Timothy 1:7-9, “Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands. For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God.”
It is a time we must get stoked, provoked and begin to stir up our faith and not ours only, but the faith of one another to love and good works. It is not a hype, it is a life.

Blessings,
kent

In His Image

November 5, 2012

In His Image

John 3:2-3
Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.

With the natural mind and vision it seems impossible to come into the likeness of all that Christ is. Yet, this is what we live for, this is what we endure affliction, hardship, persecution and trials for. We are so often focused and filled with the concerns of the outward perishing man with all it weaknesses and shortcomings, but inwardly we behold Jesus, the pattern son, the first born of many sons that are coming into glory. There are those of us who haven’t endured that much adversity in our life, but there are others of us who are tired from a hard road of suffering and trials that they have traveled and it is only the grace of God that they are holding on today. Some of you have said, “ Just take me home Lord, I don’t want to continue on as I have been.” Why some of our roads are so much harder than others I can not say, but this I know, what you have suffered and endured is not in vain. God sees your faithfulness as you have endured, and though you may not see it, you have been walking the way of the Overcomer. You may laugh and say, “What have I overcome, look at the mess my life is in and the pain, suffering and heartache I am still enduring?” Abraham was given promises of God that seemed impossible and did he receive them immediately? Some of those promises are still being fulfilled.
Jesus prays for all that believe on Him in John 17:10-16, “”My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: 23I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. 24″Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. 25″Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”” Have we seen all that Jesus prayed for fulfilled? We are a people who live by faith and the greatest testimony of our faith is when we can walk in the hope of the promises that are set before us, even when we do not see the manifestation of them. Some of our promises we carry into glory with us. Does that mean that God is not faithful to His word? God is not limited by our natural lifetime.
For those of us that are discouraged and tired of life let me encourage you not to give up in the battle. Your faithfulness and perseverance have not gone unnoticed by the Lord. You have not suffered in vain. The enemy is always there to tell you to give up and that God has failed you. No, God has entrusted you with a walk that most of us couldn’t endure and would fail at, but by His grace you will carry on in faith and you will overcome by your faithfulness and trust, regardless of whether you see the manifestation of the promise or not. I believe God is a great rewarder of those who are faithful to Him, especially through the fire and trials. Allow that place you are in to have its perfect work in you. As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:16, “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward [man] is renewed day by day.” Psalm 34:9 says, “Many [are] the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.” Come and rest your head upon the breast of Jesus. Let Him be your comfort and your confidence. He will give you grace to see you through if you will hold fast to Him and not let go.
Hebrews 11:10 says of Abraham, “For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” Hebrews 11:13-16 goes on to remind us that this time, this place this life is not the fulfillment of all of our promises. “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. 14People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.”
We have the promise of coming into the image of Christ if we persevere and hold fast the confession our faith. Let us not become discouraged, but let us remain faithful holding fast the promises as we journey into the place that God has prepared for us, both in this sanctuary and that which is to come.

Blessings,
kent

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