Romans 14:1-5
Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. 2One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. 3The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. 4Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

Judgement on Disputable Matters

If we were all to gather around and talk our theology hopefully we would be in agreement concerning the basic tenants of our faith such as Jesus being the Son of God, His blood being the atonement for our sins, that we are saved through faith and not of works, the virgin birth and other foundational truths that define Christianity. Hopefully, what we do not do is what Paul and others warned us about and that is adding or taking away from the gospel. Many times men, doctrines and denominations want to put their addendum that it is not just by faith that we are saved. The Galatians had been deceived into thinking that it was Christ and the works of the Law that saved them, but Paul clarifies this all through the book of Galatians. In Galatians 2:16 it says, “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” The Law is all about our doing and doing is never enough, therefore we find ourselves standing in condemnation because we can’t live up to the Law or we become judgmental and condescending because we think we are keeping it so much better than others around us. Christ came and died to deliver us out of the mentality and the separation from God that it brought. In Galatians 2:20 Paul puts our faith into perspective as to where our lives should be if we are a Spirit-led people. “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” It is no longer about what I am or what I believe; it is about being the expression of the Christ that indwells me. “I” should no longer live, only Christ in me. The summary of our past, present and future in Christ is summed up in Ephesians 2: 1-10. “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. 4But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast. 10For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Now if we agree on these basic tenants of our faith, then what is all of Romans 14 about? It is about all of little disputes about what we see, understand, are persuaded and comprehend the Word of God to say. I have found in myself, that over my lifetime many of my opinions and perceptions have changed and are still changing. We all walk in the light of what we know, see and understand, but 1 Corinthians 13: 12 says, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” The truth is, no matter how much we know, we all still just know in part, because we are limited through our natural mind and understanding. I read an illustration recently that helped me see this more clearly. If I held up a nickel between us and we were asked what was on the nickel, I would say an impression of Thomas Jefferson and you would disagree and say no, it is an impression of Monticello. The truth is that we would both be right depending on our perspective, paradigm and way of seeing it. Religious men, including us, have often been guilty of taking a particular truth and making a dogma out of it. The truths of God are like spokes in a wheel; they can only keep the wheel in round if they are balanced by all other truth. If I take any truth to an extreme it becomes out of balance. The truth is I need both Thomas Jefferson and Monticello to make that nickel work.
Let’s not get distracted by the minor points of truth that we loose sight of the bigger picture here. We are not in fellowship with one another to bicker over our differences, but to edify one another in who we are in Christ. Let us lay our petty differences aside and let us allow one another the freedom to walk in the light of what we know realizing that we are all growing in the light and knowledge of Him. God is our judge, not man, before Him alone do we stand or fall. The Lord told me once concerning trying to correct how someone else believes. Don’t argue and debate them. Speak the truth in love and the truth will set them free.

Blessings,
#kent

A Life in Order

June 3, 2014

A Life in Order
Psalms 119:133
Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me.

This is really the Lord speaking to me. You just get to listen in and glean what may apply to you.
God is a God of order and that is an area I need to be so much more like God. I wonder how many of us can really say we have our lives and houses in order. Do we order and run our lives or do our lives and lifestyles run us? I have to confess that disorganization is far too much of a weakness in my life. I kind of go with the flow jumping from one thing to the next before the former is finished and put away. It doesn’t take long before I’m buried in disorganized paper work. I fail to have a place for everything and everything in its place.
We were in a class and the instructor gave an illustration where she had two volunteers come up. She gave them each a deck of cards and then ask which one could most quickly give her, in order, the cards that she called out. One deck was totally disorganized, with cards turned in both directions and as hard as that person tried she couldn’t begin to keep up with the other person whose deck was all in order. It hit home that this often is a picture of our lives and why there is such chaos and ineffectiveness.
When we look at the nature and the order of God, we don’t see that. God is a God of order and structure. As I was looking through the scriptures pertaining to order I was impressed by a number of scriptures from Exodus and Leviticus that speak of order in the tabernacle. For instance, Leviticus 1:12 is typical of many verses which says, “And he shall cut it into his pieces, with his head and his fat: and the priest shall lay them in order on the wood that [is] on the fire which [is] upon the altar:“ There was an order of doing tasks and an order in which things were to be done. I believe that God has an order for our lives of when and how things are to be done. So often we go through life doing things however and whenever. We don’t enjoy a lot of peace because we are always looking for what we misplaced. For our lives to work effectively we have to find the order of the Lord for us, both naturally and spiritually. It’s not that we have to be annal and legalistic about everything. It is important to stay flexible and moldable, but we do this while being sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s direction and order for our lives, because we want ours and His to be one in the same.
Job 10:22 speaks of disorder in this regard, “A land of darkness, as darkness [itself; and] of the shadow of death, without any order, and [where] the light [is] as darkness.” Disorder is like muddied waters, even our light is like darkness and its hard for us to know where we are going, as well as finding the resources to get there.
On the other hand 1 Corinthians 14:40 exhorts us, “Let all things be done decently and in order.” Since order is a nature and attribute of God, I’m realizing that I need to make it a priority in my life to get more organized. That means I have to practice overcoming a lot of bad habits that keep me in that state. For some of us we may have lives that are in great order outwardly, but spiritually we may be running amuck and have our lives out of balance and out of order. It is great time for all of us to make that commitment to put our lives and houses in order. It will no doubt again be a “God help me thing”, but that’s okay, by His grace we will set our lives and houses in order.

Blessings,
#kent

Yoked Oxen and Wild Asses

Ephesians 2:13-18
But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition [between us]; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, [even] the law of commandments [contained] in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, [so] making peace And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.

As the New Covenant Church began after the death, resurrection and ascension of Christ there were many struggles for men and women to come into the truth of the grace and freedom that is in Christ Jesus. There are still many parallels of that in the Church today. On one side you have what we will call the “yoked oxen”. These are the religious ones who have grown up in the religious atmosphere of denomination and religious structure. Most have grounding in the basic truths of God’s Word, but they have been so long under the yoke of the routine of religion it is hard for them to have the vision of how God is expanding beyond the perimeters of their individual camps of truth and revelation. In many ways they have become similar to the Jews of Israel. “Bless God, we are God’s chosen and our way is the right way. It was good enough for my ancestors and it is good enough for me.” It is the mentality that wants to put God in the box of our religious way of thinking and they struggle to see beyond that.
On the other hand we have what we will call “the wild asses”. These are those much like the Gentiles outside of Judaism that have little or no roots in religious background or the Christian religion. They have lived life free and wild before the Holy Spirit drew them to Himself and they came into knowledge of Him. They may not have the reverence and respect for the time honored traditional values that the “yoked oxen” have. They often have no clue of the proper etiquette and decorum of worship and reverencing God. But the “Wild Asses,” on the other hand, come with a certain freedom from the tradition and teachings of men. Their souls are like virgin soil for the gospel to be planted into. There is this wall of religion and rebellion that exist between the two camps as they often have conflict in dealing with one another. This was that middle wall of partition that separated the Jew and Gentile of old and a prejudice that still exist today. The scripture says Christ is our peace that has made us both one. As these two cultures come together in the atmosphere of true Christian fellowship, worship and relationship it is often hard for them to relate with one another. What we sometimes forget is that each brings to the table something that the other needs to balance them both. The wild ones need the structure and discipline, the reverence and respect that accompany the fear of God. The yoked ones need the freedom from inhibitions, liturgical thinking and expression that the wild ones bring. It is coming out of a box and culture for both sides that, together, the two may become one new man in Christ.
If missionaries from America go to foreign countries trying to impose their cultural thinking and ways as they preach the gospel they are often very much rejected and resisted. If they go and are willing to lay down their preconceived cultural ideas and reach out to the people from their cultural understanding and perspective they are often better understood and received because the people from that culture can relate with them.
What are we saying? God is bringing people into body from every nation, tribe and tongue, from every background and culture. We all have to come out of our cultural boxes and shells if we are to relate with one another in Christ. The cross of Jesus and the love of God are the common ground upon which we meet. Our focus must be much less on that of judging others and conforming them to our particular ideology of Christianity and more focused on how do we build each other up in love. If I can be more focused on meeting your need than I am on fixing your problem, the problem may well get resolved as I meet the need.
I once worked with a young man who was very open to hear about the Lord, but was from a different religious background than myself. I had my book and I was going to set him straight on why his religious background was wrong. Before I talked with him, I felt I heard the Holy Spirit say to me, “Just speak the truth in love and the truth will set him free.” It is each one of us opening up our hearts and minds to what the Spirit wants to teach us that will set us free. He will lead us into all truth if we will abide in relationship with Him and remain obedient to His leading. He will break down the middle wall of partition and make the “yoked oxen” and the “wild asses” one man in Christ.

Blessings,
#kent

Spiritual Fitness

March 27, 2014

Spiritual Fitness

1 Timothy 4:8
For physical training is of some value (useful for a little), but godliness (spiritual training) is useful and of value in everything and in every way, for it holds promise for the present life and also for the life which is to come.

We live in a time and a society that is very health and fitness conscious. It almost seems ironic, considering over half our population would fall in the obese or overweight category. Yet we are hearing about it all of the time. The truth is we want to eat and enjoy all that we want, but we still want to have buff and gorgeous bodies and looks. Somehow God didn’t seem to create them to go together very well. If we want physical fitness, then we know that it requires discipline and effort on our part. People and companies have made billions of dollars by selling pills and products that told us we could have the one without the other. If I set in front of my TV and watch a workout program that should somehow help me to get fit. If I eat a snickers candy bar and a diet coke, then I think I’m on a diet and am going to lose weight. If I watch a lot of sports, then somehow that makes me an athlete.
This scripture makes an analogy. There is nothing wrong with physical training and staying in shape. Like anything it can get out of balance. While physical training in a natural sense can be good, in the light of what is really meaningful in life it isn’t that high on the list. We are in the process of maturing and training up our spiritual man. As in the physical, to be spiritually fit requires an investment of time, of dedication, discipline and exercise. What kind of spiritual shape is our life in today? Are we armchair and couch-potato Christians? Do we warm a pew, say a few weak amens, listen to a sermon or a word and then continue on through life without it affecting any change in our behavior, or actions, or involvement? Are we lethargic, complacent, dull, and self-willed? What is the state of our spiritual fitness today? How would you honestly rate yourself on a scale of 1 to10? When I look at my physical man and see how indulgent I have become in so many areas of my life, I realize that the same mentality can very well carry over into my spiritual life. Are we a nation of out of shape and overindulgent Christians? Outwardly we are very blessed, but inwardly do we fit the profile of Revelations 3:17? “17For you say, I am rich; I have prospered and grown wealthy, and I am in need of nothing; and you do not realize and understand that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.” This is not written to condemn us, but it is a call to action for all of us. Many of you who are reading this are spiritually strong and fit, but others of us may be strong with our words, but weak in our actions.
The apostle Paul gives us another analogy in 1 Corinthians 9:25-27, “Now every athlete who goes into training conducts himself temperately and restricts himself in all things. They do it to win a wreath that will soon wither, but we [do it to receive a crown of eternal blessedness] that cannot wither.
26Therefore I do not run uncertainly (without definite aim). I do not box like one beating the air and striking without an adversary.
27But [like a boxer] I buffet my body [handle it roughly, discipline it by hardships] and subdue it, for fear that after proclaiming to others the Gospel and things pertaining to it, I myself should become unfit [not stand the test, be unapproved and rejected as a counterfeit].”
We all need to come to grips with the fact that God has a calling and a purpose in our lives. I am being convicted today that there needs to be both a physical and spiritual discipline in my life. I am not talking about legalism, but like Paul, I need to conduct my life with temperance, self-control and have myself in check, spirit, soul and body. God is calling us in this hour to prepare ourselves for a time of great spiritual battle and a time of His revealing. Most of us aren’t prepared for that with the mentality and habits that we harbor. God is calling us to spiritual fitness through such things as prayer, fasting, personal time with the Lord and walking out our faith in love and actions that reveal the character of who we are in Christ. We are a called out people, a separated people and a holy people. We are a people called after God’s own name and for His glory. We are being called to the gyms of spiritual fitness to be exercised in godliness and righteousness. We have an adversary who has been lulling us to sleep and into spiritual laziness. This is the day to discern our spiritual state and develop a mentality and lifestyle that is in harmony with God’s desire for our spiritual fitness. The overcomer is a person of spiritual strength and fortitude. Spiritual strength is developed in discipline, consistency, a right state of mind and a vision of what we are being strong for. We don’t want to find ourselves, after believing, coming up short and missing the mark of the high calling we have in Christ Jesus. Let us press on with all of our being into Him and be strong in the power of His might.

Blessings,
#Kent

Farsighted

December 7, 2012

1 Chronicles 16:43
Then all the people left, each for his own home, and David returned home to bless his family.

Farsighted

Farsighted is when you can see things well at a distance, but things up close are much harder to bring into focus and clarity. When I look at the life of David I see a powerful, humble and anointed leader that was like a king among kings. David probably stands out in the Bible more than any other leader in the Old Testament. He truly operated in more than the office of king, he actually operated as prophet, priest and king. God had taught him and anointed him to be a leader among men and to reveal God’s heart for His people.
God is faithful to show us both the strengths and weaknesses of His chosen. From that honesty we can glean wisdom and correction for our own lives as we make application to them. We also are made up of strengths and weaknesses. Some, I guess, are inherent in our character, but that doesn’t give them permission to stay there if it doesn’t line up with the character of God which we should desire to be conformed too.
When I look at David’s life, one of the areas I see him have the most struggles with, is his own family. Of course, he had multiple wives, which probably only compounded his problems. I figure if I can keep one woman happy I am doing exceptionally well. One of the things that happens to so many of us, maybe more to men than women, is that we, like David, can be farsighted. We can be good at what we do out in the world or with ministry, but perhaps our greatest struggles are at home. We lose focus sometimes of our first and foremost priority, our spouse and children. Often in our sacrifice to help and meet the needs of others we are sacrificing them as well, because they may have lack in order that others might benefit. David, in leading his nation, didn’t always lead his family with the same diligence, love and correction. Some of his greatest advisories, like Absolam, were those of his own household. I am sure he probably blamed himself for that and maybe all that led up to it.
We can’t change the past mistakes that we have made, but we can ask God to correct our vision through the Holy Spirit to see more clearly how to address the needs within our own homes and families. With both husband and wives working and many children growing up in single parent homes, children today often get neglected. It is most often not intentional or deliberate. Parents come home tired and exhausted from their day. They have probably been pouring out in their jobs and then their is the home to maintain along with all of the chores of a household. Often our wives, husbands and children only get the leftovers of what we have left to give, if anything. Ironically, they are the ones we are supposedly killing ourselves to provide for and make a better life. Their life can’t be better unless we are in it, no matter how rich we are. Often this balance of our giving to our family and spouse is a hard one to navigate. Many demands and responsibilities are upon our lives, but I know that there is no more valuable investment that we can make than what we put into our families with our personal time and attention. We can’t lose sight of the reason why we got married and had a family. They are our first priority, because they are the ones that will carry our faith and values to the next generations. They will most likely model before their children the example you modeled before them.
The scripture I chose is one where David had just brought the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem and it had been an intense time of activity and ministry, but I loved what I read when he had finished, “and David returned home to bless his family.”
I pray God will help you and me not to be too farsighted that we lose focus of the importance and priority our family needs to be to us. May He give us spiritual vision that is in focus, balanced and complete.

Blessings,
kent

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