1 Samuel 15: 22-23

But Samuel replied: “Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD ? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has rejected you as king.” 

Obedience is better than Sacrifice

Most of us have grown up in religion that operates as king Saul did.  It is more about doing than obedience.  We have developed numerous programs to do things for God and about God, but how much of it comes out of direct obedience to the Spirit to do all of these things.  It seems good.  It sounds good, but does it produce the life and Spirit of God in others.  What God does and what He builds will have this characteristic.  It will produce life and it will accomplish the purposes of God.  If we build something in the flesh, no matter how good or noble it may seem, then we have to maintain and support it in the power of the flesh.  What God has commissioned, He will provide for.  

Saul, like so many of us, is justifying to Samuel how he did good.  Listen to how we often respond to God in how Saul answers the Word of God through Samuel in verses 17-20, “Samuel said, “Although you were once small in your own eyes, did you not become the head of the tribes of Israel? The LORD anointed you king over Israel. 18 And he sent you on a mission, saying, ‘Go and completely destroy those wicked people, the Amalekites; make war on them until you have wiped them out.’ 19 Why did you not obey the LORD? Why did you pounce on the plunder and do evil in the eyes of the LORD?” 

20 “But I did obey the LORD,” Saul said. “I went on the mission the LORD assigned me. I completely destroyed the Amalekites and brought back Agag their king. 21 The soldiers took sheep and cattle from the plunder, the best of what was devoted to God, in order to sacrifice them to the LORD your God at Gilgal.” 

How many of us have had directives of the Lord either personally or through His Word and we have compromised what He has instructed us to do.  We have made it subject to our interpretation and justified our manipulating of what God has instructed to best meet our needs or purposes rather than His.  Religion always acts in the name of God, but is not always subject in obedience to the express will of God.  Many of us in our religious spirits, put on our outward vestures of obedience and righteousness, while inwardly we work things after the will of our own devices.  

God has a strong word for Saul and for us who are being religious, but not obedient.  God calls it rebellion and He says it is like witchcraft.  It is where we purpose to manipulate and control what God has spoken to us to do.  We are not honoring and worshipping Him in this process, we are honoring and worshipping our agendas and ourselves.   God doesn’t delight in our pretenses at what is good; He delights in our obedience.  Through this kind of stubbornness and rebellion God rejected Saul as king.  Now Saul didn’t cease to sit in the place of kingship from that day even as Adam didn’t literally die in the day that he partook of the forbidden fruit, but in both cases something happened in the spirit realm that brought death.  When God withdrawals His Spirit from a thing it will eventually whither and die.  

God has withdrawn His Spirit from religion because it is only a pretense of godliness, built upon the letter of the law and not the Spirit.  He is not looking for those who have a form of godliness, He is seeking after those who will worship and walk in Spirit and in truth.  He is looking for those whose obedience is pure from a heart of love.  They are not interested in what makes them look good or what benefits them.  They are only interested in what glorifies the Father, so they will do things in His time and in His way.  If God doesn’t move, then they won’t produce their own agenda to make up for it.  They have put on the harness of the Lord and they will only move as the King directs them.  

Are we operating out of this spirit of obedience or are we still a lot like Saul, manipulating godliness to what best suits our ends?  Our stubbornness and self-will has no place in the kingdom. 

Blessings,

#kent

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1 John 3:16

Hereby perceive we the love [of God], because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down [our] lives for the brethren. 

Put Your Love where Your Mouth is!

John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  Isn’t it ironic how John 3:16, the love of God through Christ and 1 John 3:16, the love of Christ through us, coincide so closely together?  Both of these scriptures involve the giving of a sacrifice in love.  Both of these scriptures involve the laying down of a life as the ultimate expression of love. 

My conviction today is how shallow and conditional my love is.  It is not nearly so focused on others as it is on its own agenda.  That self-love wants to preserve and cater to this life rather than sacrifice and give it.  Rather we think it out loud or not, how much of our life is motivated by, “what’s in it for me?”  What is even more convicting is how we so often treat the ones that are the closest to us and that we say that we love the greatest with the most contempt, disrespect and selfishness.  Where does all of that line up with the love of God in us?  We talk about the love of Christ, we preach it to others and we go through the motions, but is that love, that agape love, alive in action in our personal day to day relationships.  

Husbands, why are we not bringing the love into the home?  Why do we not love our wives, like Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it?  Why do we not love our brethren, rather than using and taking advantage of them?  Should it surprise us that the world has so much contempt for us as Christians?  A good deal of the contempt and mockery of Christianity has little to do with how much we are like Christ.  Our hypocrisy betrays us.  When Christians and churches don’t pay their bills, borrow and don’t return, and only take, but never give, what does that speak about the love of Christ in our lives?   Many of us need a reality check about what the love of Christ is, because it isn’t being seen in us.   Where has the depth of God’s agape love gone?  When that love is operating people will be drawn to Christ and they will know us by our love.  How do others perceive and know us now?  Is that self-giving, sacrificial love what we are known for?  

Our prayer should be, “God make me a giver like You are a giver.  Make me a lover like you have loved me.  Make my life a living sacrifice daily poured out to You as I serve and love others as You have served and loved me.  Help me to experience in daily deed and reality what it is to love my neighbor as myself.  Help me to put Your love where my empty hollow words have been.  Amen.”

 
 
Blessings,
#kent

Blessed are the Peacemakers

September 15, 2015

James 3:17-18
But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.
Blessed are the Peacemakers

Romans 14:7 says, “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” Peacemakers are a kingdom people who sow after the spirit and not after the flesh. Their intent is to reap a spiritual harvest of righteousness peace and joy in the Holy Ghost. There are not a lot of peacemakers out here in the body of Christ. Most of us have our own agendas, our own opinions, doctrines of men and will to see things go our way. Therefore our agenda isn’t peace; it is warfare, perhaps not physically, but often verbally and psychologically. We want to manipulate things our way, because that is the way we think they should be. But when you think one way and I think another and when we both think that we are right, are we going to have peace? No, we are both going to strive to establish our own opinion as right.
A peacemaker works out of the wisdom that comes from above. He or she grasps a concept that life isn’t just about the here and now, but what perpetuates into eternity. Their concept isn’t about their way; it is about God’s way. Strife, envy, division and disunity cannot accomplish the purposes of God. That is why the enemy tries to sow them in our midst. We so often speak, move and find our expression out of the emotions of our flesh rather than out of the peace and spirit of the Lord. We need only to look to the Holy Spirit to see the example of the peacemaker. The Holy Spirit is with us to help us, comfort us, teach us, empower us and guide us into peace and righteousness. The Holy Spirit is often referred to as the perfect gentleman. He doesn’t override our will. He doesn’t force us to learn of Him. He won’t force comfort on you if you don’t want it. The Holy Spirit, as awesome and Holy as He is, is not forward in His dealing with us. He will work with us when we are yielded to allow Him to have control, but He doesn’t force His control upon us. Hopefully we are wise enough to realize that we are far better with Him than we are without Him. Yet how many of us keep the Holy Spirit locked in the closet while we continue to do things our way and for our own end? If we are peacemakers we are going to operate like the Holy Spirit. We can’t force peace on those who are bent upon war. Often they must go their own way until they come to the end of themselves, but the mature ones will always be there ready to help, assist, comfort, counsel and move in God on your behalf, but their nature is considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit. They are not judgmental or prejudice in their dealings, but are impartial and sincere. The end and the fruit of what they do is righteousness. They are not in this walk for themselves; they are in it for you and me. If we are one of them, then that is where our heart must be also. One of the definitions of a peacemaker from the Lexicon is this, “of Christianity, the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of whatsoever sort that is.” Are we at peace with God and man? Are we at peace with ourselves and with what God has given us? If we are not at peace how can we be a peacemaker? Find your rest in God, the Holy One. When you are at peace with Him and in your relationship with Him, then you are in a position to communicate that peace through your life, words and actions. You will stand in the gap to reconcile men to God and to one another. The body of Christ is in great need of a lot more peacemakers who walk in the Spirit and the love of the Lord. If you want to win your argument and your way by being louder, more aggressive and insistent or through the use of manipulation and subversives, you may win the battle but you will lose the war. In order to get your way you may end up proving yourself to be the enemy of God rather than His friend.
Matthew 5:9 says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.” If sonship is what you long for, then learn to be a peacemaker.

Blessings,
#kent

A Purpose Driven Life

December 3, 2014

A Purpose Driven Life

Romans 8:28
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Haven’t all of us that have embraced Christ by faith and entered into a relationship with Him, been called according to His purpose. Often we confuse our purpose with His purpose and they are not always the same. Many of us have our own agendas, our own aspirations and goals, but they may not necessarily be in line with God’s purpose for your life. The Lord has given us a will and if we are bent on our ways rather than pursuing what He has for our lives, we can make that choice.
Jesus says, “if you love me, you will keep my commandments.” 1 Corinthians 16:19-20 tells us, “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost [which is] in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” If we truly love the Lord then we need to acknowledge that we are His and no longer our own. 2 Timothy 1:9 speaks of what God’s purpose is, “Who hath saved us, and called [us] with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” Most of us, quite honestly, tend to compartmentalize our lives into spiritual and non-spiritual, what is God’s and what is ours. The Lord’s intent is that all that we are is spiritual and belongs to Him, body, soul and spirit. What are we missing in the purpose and will of God for our lives because we are caught up in our own ways. How much of our lives do we filter through the Holy Spirit, seeking His direction and council and asking that His will and purpose are accomplished in all that we do and the decisions that we make? Do we instead, forge headlong into the desires and purposes of our own heart and expect God to be a part of and bless what we have purposed to do? 2 Corinthians 13:5 tells us, “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?”
We can be really thankful that our God is so loving, patient and kind; and that He endeavors to deal with our hearts and speak to us in our times of self-discovery. We can listen to the gentle dealings of the Lord or we can ignore Him and continue on until one day we must come to terms and the consequences of our own actions.
Father has a purpose and calling for each one of our lives. Are we embracing and living fully in it? If we truly love Him and have been called out of the world by Him, then we have the assurance that all that the Lord is working in our lives is for the good. At times it may not seem good, but that is where we have to trust the heart of God and His promises concerning our lives.
Are we living in God’s purpose today? Are we living the destiny He has called us too? Those things can only be discovered and found out in Him through a yielded spirit and a contrite heart. The Lord will lead and direct our lives if we allow Him to do so.
Romans 12:1-2 exhorts us in this purpose, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Are we living God’s purpose driven life for us today?

Blessings,
#kent

What Has Church Become?

November 28, 2014

1 Corinthians 14:26
What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church.

What Has Church Become?

Does our church, our gathering together in the name of Christ still resemble this exhortation in 1 Corinthians 14 or has it gotten swallowed up in the organization, the structure, the program and the one man headliner. Is it about a functioning body where different members are able to contribute as they are led of the Spirit or have we become dumbed down to depend only on the leadership to carry out the act of worship and give the Word. In many churches our services have been reduced to a series of rote mechanical functions that we have memorized and go through. That isn’t the church that Paul speaks about here. We have become accustomed to playing church rather than being the church. Our religion has separated us into clergy and laity. One performs and the other is the audience that listens. We wouldn’t know what to do if the Holy Spirit actually showed up in our service because He would throw the agenda on our bulletins all off and mess everything up. We would lose our order and our control and our smooth running programs. We have been so raised up in this organized church mentality it is really hard for some of us to conceive of something so different where we actually individually and corporately begin to operate in the gifting the Holy Spirit has for each member. Besides that it would most likely get out of our time limitations and constraints. Then we couldn’t beat crowds to the restaurant after the church and we might miss the football game.
Church has really ceased to be all about Him. It has become all about us. After all, we are doing God a favor just to show up on Sunday mornings, right? God forbid if someone or something should offend us. We’ll just take our attendance elsewhere where we are more appreciated and they sing our flavor of songs. What has the church become?
The truth is when we turn everything over to the Holy Spirit it can get out of our comfort zone. It can get messy and it certainly may not fit into our agenda. or box It doesn’t mean there isn’t leadership and there isn’t an order, but it is subject to the Holy Spirit and not to man. Let me tell you, when we allow and invite the Holy Spirit to show up we go home with more than just a self-righteous attitude. His presence touches our lives and changes us in ways that only He can. He doesn’t use just one man or a worship team to do it, He moves through His body and upon His body as His will dictates, when we allow His will to be done. Paul says here we have these different functions through the various members for the strengthening of the church. Something tells me that church might have looked a lot different back then than it does today. Today, our churches are built around our charismatic leaders, not our charismatic bodies. Isn’t it time we quit playing church and start being the church where each one of us functions in the calling and gifting upon our lives? It doesn’t have to be limited to the Sunday service. Your ministry and calling should spill out into your everyday life. You are not only for the edification of the church, but to edify, encourage and build up all who are in your presence. If we are in Christ and He is in us then we must become the daily expression of who He is and we need a place of worship where that is actually what we do, WORSHIP Him who is worthy until we enter into His presence and He is the headship and the direction of our service. I can tell you it won’t be the same thing every week. It will always be fresh and new. You will know that you have been with Him, not just heard about Him.
What has church become? How do we bring it back to what it should be? It is time we became activated and no longer stagnant, because the church that we have known isn’t what is lighting a fire in the midst of our unbelieving nation. They need to hear and see the reality of God’s presence just as we do, not just the rhetoric about who He was. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. He hasn’t changed, we have. Church, wake up to who you are and come alive in your spirits so that you can be the expression of Christ in the midst of His body and in the earth today.

Blessings,
#kent

1 John 4:7-12
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

The Most Powerful Force in the World

The most powerful force that we can possess and know is the power of God’s love. We, as Christians, certainly know and believe that God is the most powerful source because He is the creator and originator of all things. Here in 1 John 4 we have a definition of who God is. “God is love.” It only follows, as the scriptures tell us, that the true sense and definition of love is only born out of God; therefore everyone that truly loves is born of God and knows God.
We often hear the argument of non-believers that if God is love how can He allow all of the suffering and violence that goes on in the world. That suffering and violence isn’t the act of God’s will, it is the act of man’s will that has rejected the love of God. The darkness that pervades our world is really that absence of God’s light and love in their souls. God’s love isn’t selfish and controlling. God in His love gave us free will and choice to accept or reject His love. Even though mankind had chosen to reject the love of God, it doesn’t mean that it lessened the love of God for us. God still demonstrated His exceedingly great love for us in that while we were yet sinners, He ‘sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins’. This demonstration of love is what should resonate in us as we have seen, acknowledged and accepted this love of God in our hearts. When we became new creatures in Christ Jesus, His DNA was infused into us. The make-up of who He is, is Love. The power and presence of Christ in a person is not in how well they can orate the gospel, or the works they can accomplish or even the miracles they can do. The true evidence of God in your life is the power and the demonstration of His love in you and through you. It is the love of God that energizes us and empowers us to live a life that is outside the selfish love of self. It doesn’t mean that we don’t love ourselves, because even God loves us. It means that all that energy we used to put into pleasing ourselves we now put into serving others. What is it to love others as you love yourself if it is not gaining for others what you would have gained for yourself. It should be evident that the love of God then shifts the focus of our love from self to first loving God with all of our heart, mind, soul and strength and then serving others with the same love we would serve ourselves.
As we face each new day what is the motivation and the goal of our life and heart? Is it simply to further our own agenda or is it in the challenge of changing the world around us through the power of God’s love that resides in us? You don’t really have the power to change anyone’s life but your own, but when your life comes into alignment with God’s love and purpose you can be sure the world will change around you. It is God’s ultimate purpose that His kingdom come and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven. It is His will and purpose to ultimately restore all of creation through His power and love, but right now that begins with you and me. It begins with God’s kingdom coming within us and His will being done in us, in this earthen body and as it is in heaven. The revelation of that Kingdom is God’s love revealed in you.

blessings,
kent

Affectionately Loving One Another
Romans 12:10
[Be] kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;

Did you ever notice that the people that you end up neglecting and abusing the most are usually the ones you say that you love the most? They are most often your family, close friends, or even your brothers and sisters in Christ. The ironic thing is that we often give preference to the ones or the things that are putting the more demands and abuses on our lives, but in the scheme of things are less in importance. Somehow we just expect those we love and prefer to understand when we put them last on our agenda or speak or treat them harshly. Perhaps many of you, like myself, find your lives out of balance with your priorities and preferences. In a society in which we find ourselves running like crazy in a thousand different directions, with people and pressures pressing in on us on every side, when something has to give it is usually our family. That can apply to both our immediate families as well as the family of God. Isn’t it strange that we are doing all of these things that in our minds we consider for the benefit of our families and yet they are often suffering as a result of them? What’s wrong that picture?
I speak this first for my own benefit and then for the benefit of anyone else who thinks it may apply to them. I find I get an agenda set in my mind and I’m not real tolerant of interruptions to that agenda. Some of you, like myself, may find that you have created walls of hurt and wounded the ones closest to you. You have communicated to them so many times through your actions and words that they aren’t as important or as valuable as so many other things in your life. My feeling is that this is a major problem with a good many of our families and relationships. We all need to get our priorities in order. God and his people are often at the forefront of our offense list. It is not usually something we do intentionally and often quite subtly these neglects and abuses creep in to undermine our most precious relationships and destroy one of the most valuable commodities we possess, our families, friends and brethren. We often put up our pretty fronts around others, but the loved ones so often see a whole different face and attitude.
Those closest to us rub us the hardest. We would most like to blame them for being the problem with us, but in reality if we didn’t already have a problem then a lot of what they did wouldn’t irritate us so. Like the old saying goes, “You can’t get a person’s goat unless they have a goat to be got.”
The unconditional love of God prefers the other above themselves. It displays that preference by being affectionate. The connotation of our theme verse is to be tenderly reciprocating love and caring in a relational way as with a parent and child or husband and wife. It is preferring the other above yourself. Please join with me in making it our goal to set the priorities of our relationships and commitments straight. Let our God be at the forefront of all that we do, then our family, our relationships with each other, then those outside and then us. Let’s make it our first priority to invest in the eternal things and then the temporal.

Blessings,
kent

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