Faithfulness

June 11, 2015

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 a 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

My Friend, Billy

June 4, 2015

John 14:15-20
“If you love Me, keep My commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. 19 “A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. 20 At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. 21 He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”

My Friend, Billy

John was a middle-aged man of medium height. He lived on a street called Marigold Drive in a small house that his mother had left to him after she died. John was a reclusive man, with few friends and outside interests. John was an auto mechanic by trade and he worked on cars in his garage accessed by the alley behind his house. His work came from word of mouth and he kept relatively busy as he was conscientious about his work and his prices were quite reasonable.
John had never married or had kids. He had been a loner all of his life. Some thought John a bit eccentric and strange, but most saw a gentle and quite man who had just never really engaged with the society that surrounded him.
John had some customers come in one day that had a young boy, about eight, named William. His friends all called him Billy. Billy was very engaging and outgoing. He seemed to take to John right off when they came in. He was fascinated with the mechanics and workings of a car, so he had a barrage of questions for John as John was assessing the problem with their vehicle. For a lot of people, Billy would have been a bit of a nuisance and agitation, but the boy’s curious nature and vivacious personality really impressed John. He patiently answered and explained question after question that Billy had for him. The folks lived relatively close to John, so John invited the boy to come over and help him if he would like. Billy was very excited about the prospect of being an auto mechanic and launched a massive plea for his parent’s approval and permission. They agreed that after Billy had gotten his chores done around that house he could ride his bike over to John’s and help him out. John and Billy seemed to just hit it off from the start and Billy became to John that close friend that he had never really had. Billy respected and accepted John for just who he was and John appreciated in Billy all the things that he wasn’t.
As John and Billy’s friendship grew, Billy was over John’s at every opportunity, hanging out with his new best friend. John was teaching him what he knew and Billy was helping John better grasp the world around him. They were good friends that met needs in one another.
Now Billy’s parents were strong Christians who had raised Billy up in the Lord and Billy had a strong faith and personal relationship of his own with Jesus Christ. Every Sunday morning he was gone to church, but in the afternoon he loved to go over and just hang out with John. John had never been around religious people or grown up with a knowledge of the Lord. He was a good, honest, hard working individual, but he didn’t know the Lord in a personal relationship. When Billy would come over on Sunday afternoon, he would excitedly share with John all that he had learned that day at church. John saw in little Billy qualities and attributes that he desired and wished were in himself. He admired his faith and Billy would always want to say the blessing whenever they shared a meal together. Billy began to ask John if he would come to church with him. John was reluctant and negative about going at first, but Billy could be quite persistent in his own eager way, so John finally agreed to go. This was a totally new and strange environment for John. He felt totally uncomfortable and out of place. He didn’t understand all that was taking place and much of what was said was like a foreign language to him. The only real comfort he had was his friend Billy sitting next to him, smiling at him whenever he looked over. As he listened to the sermon, his heart was touched that there could be this One called Jesus that could love him so much that he would be willing to die for his wrong-doing. After several Sundays of going to church with Billy, John walked up that aisle and gave his heart to Jesus. With the love of Christ welling up in John’s heart, now it was John that became like a sponge soaking up all that Billy could tell him about this Jesus.
Meanwhile, next door to John lived an older widow woman who liked to always have her nose in someone else’s business. When she observed Billy always over at John’s and the close friendship they had, she began to gossip with her neighbors and make accusation and suggestions about what must be going on between them. After all, that John had never gotten married, so he was probably some sort of pervert or pedophile. John’s neighbors stopped speaking with him and began to look on him as some sort of criminal. John began to notice his business was dropping off and fewer people were coming to him.
Then, one day the worst thing of all happened. Billy came over in the car with his parents. They came in and talked to John about the accusations and rumors that were circulating around town. When John looked over at Billy, he had obviously been crying and was very upset. Billy’s parents felt it wasn’t a good idea for Billy to come around John anymore as people were apparently getting a wrong impression about what was going on. They said they were sorry, but the friendship had to end. When they left, John just sat there for hours with a blank stare on his face. He had never felt such hurt and pain in all of his life. His heart was broken and he didn’t know what to do. Finally as he looked over he saw his Bible setting on the table next to him. He picked it up, looked up to heaven and said, “Why God, did you take my best friend away?” He opened his Bible at random and it fell open to John 14:15-20 and he read, ““If you love Me, keep My commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. 19 “A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. 20 At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. 21 He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”
John heard the Lord speaking to him that He had not left him alone. Billy had brought him into a friendship that no one could take away from him. Even if Billy could not be there, the Lord would be there with him and would reveal Himself to him. John began to break down and cry as he realized that the Lord had brought Billy into his life to reveal Himself to him. John was never the same after that. He refused to allow the accusations and rumor destroy him. He chose to forgive his neighbor who had created them. He became active in his church, eventually teaching Sunday school and growing in favor with God and man. He in turn began to share the love and truth of Jesus Christ with all that came around him all because one little boy was willing to share that great love with Him.

Blessings,
#kent

Descended to an Ascended Life

February 26, 2015

Descended to an Ascended Life

Ephesians 4:7-10
But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)

Jesus came down that He might bring us up. The Son of God became the son of man so that He might bring the sons of men to be the sons of God. Christ came down and imparted Himself into humanity that He might bring us into His ascended life. It is a life that is marked by the same attributes as the One who has gifted and imparted it to us. It is a life wherein we die to live, a paradox that the world doesn’t comprehend. Just as a caterpillar dies to it’s old ways in the cocoon of transformation, so we are transformed and changed from glory to glory, even into the same image, even as by the Spirit of the Lord (2 Corinthians 3:18). While we live the blessed life, in the favor and fellowship of the Spirit of God, we, at the same time, may be living out the trials and tribulations that are facing us in this world. Again, we find a paradox that we can find peace and joy in the midst of trials and tribulations. While we descend in a spirit of humility into the lives of those that God has placed within our influence, loving them in Christ and meeting them where they are at, we are living an ascended life that is drawing us into the presence of the Father. With eyes and heart set upon things above, we are not an island unto ourselves we are a light and a ladder to bring others to ascend with us in hope and in faith.
The Lord, when He ascended up on high, led captivity captive and gave gift unto men. These gifts He gave us, were not for our glory, but for His. He is glorified when these gifts serve to bring others into this ascending life. While we are ascending up into Him in spirit, we are being poured out and offering up a spiritual sacrifice in the natural. The abundance of God’s glory is manifested in our weakness. When we are operating out of an ascended life then others will see Christ; they will not see us, because the ascended life is not about us, but about Him. We become a usable commodity spent upon a higher good and calling. We spend and are spent that others might taste and partake of that ascended life.
Allow me to leave you with the Apostle Paul’s definition in 2 Corinthians 4:7-19, of the ascended life and how he also descended that he might ascend, but not without hope and not alone.
“7But this precious treasure–this light and power that now shines within us–is held in perishable containers, that is, in our weak bodies. So everyone can see that our glorious power is from God and is not our own.
8We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed and broken. We are perplexed, but we don’t give up and quit. 9We are hunted down, but God never abandons us. We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going. 10Through suffering, these bodies of ours constantly share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.
11Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be obvious in our dying bodies. 12So we live in the face of death, but it has resulted in eternal life for you.
13But we continue to preach because we have the same kind of faith the psalmist had when he said, “I believed in God, and so I speak.” 14We know that the same God who raised our Lord Jesus will also raise us with Jesus and present us to himself along with you. 15All of these things are for your benefit. And as God’s grace brings more and more people to Christ, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory.
16That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. 17For our present troubles are quite small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us an immeasurably great glory that will last forever! 18So we don’t look at the troubles we can see right now; rather, we look forward to what we have not yet seen. For the troubles we see will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever.”

Blesssings,
#kent

Practical Application for a Holy Life

Colossians 3: 1-3
1Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

The first thing we need as Christians is a revelation of who we are in Christ. In Christ, the former man with it natural affections has passed away and we are putting on a new man renewed in thought, purpose and deed; reflecting and producing the image of Christ. Colossians 3 is a great application for who we are and what we are becoming, as well as what we need to be doing to get there.
We start out by realizing positionally where we are at, “raised with Christ” who is seated at the right hand of God. We are in Christ who is seated at the right hand of God. We aren’t going to find many positions higher than that. We, who are in that position, have come to a new mindset different from the one we formerly carried. We must be a heavenly-minded people whose affections are on things above and not on things below, who walk after the Spirit and no longer after the flesh. Many of us are still holding on to that old unrenewed mind and earthly affections. It is bringing us down and robbing us of who we are and what we have “in Christ”. It is only as we behold Him that the earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.
Colossians 3 is an instructional in the practical ways we are to become heavenly-minded and have a renewed mind. The first thing that it instructs us to do is often the hardest for us to put into practical application. Verses 5-11 instruct us, “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6Because of these, the wrath of God is coming, 7You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.” Do you happen to recognize any of these attributes still lingering around your life? The hardest thing to put to death is our flesh. It has an instinct for survival and it will do anything, compromise anyway, promise to be good, it just doesn’t want to die; yet it must. We can see the value of keeping Christ and the Word of God constantly in front of us, so that we have a mirror of who we are in Christ and we don’t loose vision of where we are going and what our purpose now is. These little daily devotionals are just one more means I pray the Holy Spirit uses to continually prompt and exhort us in His ways and not our former nature. We tend to want to turn away and ignore the things that put a finger on our sin and our reluctance to yield certain areas of our lives to Christ. We all have our little weaknesses, our idols, and those things that our flesh covets and doesn’t want to give up. Yet, if we are unwilling, then we are living in rebellion and disobedience to Christ, we are not being true to who we are “in Christ”, thus we deny His best and His highest for us.
These scriptures tell us what we must take off, but what about what we must put on. God never takes anything away but what He doesn’t give us something better to replace it with. Verses 12-17 instruct us, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. 15Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 17And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” God is in affect telling us to be clothed now with His nature, which is the holy apparel that is consistent with heavenly citizenship. The world around us must see something unique, different and special about the people who bear the name of Christ. If we are no different than the world, then we haven’t really changed identity or clothing. We are still living in the same old unredeemed man. Its not all about us going to church, or just talking about Jesus, or telling the world they are sinners bound for hell unless they repent; it is about a lifestyle and behavior that exemplifies who and what we are in Christ. That speaks so much more loudly than words. Give me a person that truly lives Christ before me and that will more quickly move me to change than all of the words and arguments they could give. When you put on Christ you don’t just put on different behavior, you put on a holy presence. It is a presence that exudes the love and power of the Spirit that you are of. God now has place and platform to glorify Himself through you.
Colossians 3 concludes by these instructions to the households of believers and the reminder that at the end of this natural life there is a reward and an inheritance. A reminder that it is Christ we serve and that if we choose to do wrong, that wrong bears its consequences without respect of persons. Verses 18-24 instruct us, “Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.
19Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.
20Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.
21Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.
22Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. 23Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, 24since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. 25Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism.”
Thus we have simply laid out for us the guide for living the practical Christ centered life that is consistent with whom we now are. Daily we present our bodies a living sacrifice and daily we renew our minds in Christ. We apply these practical instructions with the help and power of the Holy Spirit, that in all things we might be conformed to His life and live consistent with the high calling that we have in Christ Jesus.

Blessings,
#kent

Attributes of a Holy People

January 11, 2013

Colossians 3:5-14
Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Attributes of a Holy People

Just as oil and water don’t mix, righteousness and iniquity don’t mix and yet so many of us as believers are still trying to carry our two natures in one vessel. We can be all sweet and Christian until it doesn’t suit our need or our disposition. Just as quickly we can pick up that old nature that we supposedly reckoned dead upon the cross and live it out again. We’ve all been guilty of this.
Christ has given us a new identity with His nature, character and being, but each day is a decision on our part to pick up our cross and follow Him or to look back into the world and the death that He died to bring us out of. Lot’s wife looked back at Sodom and Gomorrah and it didn’t serve her well.
God doesn’t want us as Christians to just have a pretense of godliness; He wants us to have the in-working of a holy nature that manifests the attributes of who He is. Thus, Colossians exhorts all of us here to put death, whenever it pops up, crops up or arises in our hearts any of these former things we once practiced and were a part of our lives. God wants the fullness of what we are to be pressing into the fullness of what He is. He is now our nature and our identity. When I see these old nature attributes wanting to come up again I must repent and renounce them, because they are no longer who I am. As a holy people God wants us to see ourselves for who He has redeemed us to be, not a mixture of flesh and Spirit. Every day. just as we dress the outward man, He wants us to dress our inward man with the robes of the righteousness of Christ Jesus. He wants us to clothe ourselves “with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” He wants us to bear with each other. That means we put with the weaknesses, the faults, the irritations, the offenses, the clashes of our personalities and all of the other things that make us wants to react in ungodly ways toward others. People are going to push our buttons, but they may be in our lives so that God can do a deeper work in us. His will is for us to suffer and endure them in love. Life isn’t going to always be about what we like or what pleases us. It is about what pleases the Father. Father isn’t a respecter of persons and He doesn’t want us to be either. Just because we can’t relate with another member of the body doesn’t mean they aren’t needful and just as essential as you or I. So it is important that we grow in our tolerance, forbearance and acceptance of others. It is important that we forgive and not hold on to grievances, offenses or disappointments we have with others.
The binding fiber of all of these Christ-like attributes is love. God wants us to love higher, deeper and wider than our natural love can go. That is why we are stretched by those that we don’t necessarily like or can relate with. God wants to take us into a love that exceeds our natural boundaries and dimensions. It is His love and because our identification is with Him, it has to become our love.
God is calling forth a mature people. A people that know who they are, where they live and are positioned and what their purpose is. When we really know that, then we know it is all about Him and not about us. It is not about our pleasure, but what pleases Father. When we truly start living that way then we will experience His good pleasure through us. People will truly see Christ in us, because we don’t carry prejudice, bigotry, sectarianism, judgement, favoritism and all of the things that cause schisms and separations among us.
As we saturate our life in God’s Spirit then those natures will separate and as that old nature comes to the surface. we will recognize it, repent of it and get it out of our life. We are a chosen, holy priesthood of God. We carry His name and we represent Him in the earth. We want what others see in us to be a true representation of who our Father is. Because He has been so misrepresented, many have turned away because they saw a form of godliness, but no real substance was being revealed. All they saw was a pretense. We want to be the real deal.

Blessings,
kent

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