Romans 5:6-8
When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, no one is likely to die for a good person, though someone might be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.

God Loves Us Even when We are Ugly

Isn’t it wonderful that God didn’t just limit His love and grace to the few us humans that are cute and cuddly? He didn’t just love us when we loved Him and didn’t withhold His greatest expression of love toward us even when we least deserved or merited it.
Have you ever been around someone that was hard to love and get along with? On in any given day that could probably apply to any one of us. We can all have our ugly times and our ugly ways. Then there are some with which it has become a way of life. You know the ironic thing is that it is usually with the people that we love the most that we are often the most ugly. We can be ripping our spouse or children up all-day and then come to a stranger and be perfectly nice and polite.
Why is that? Perhaps it is because we feel safe venting our anger, frustration and anxieties upon the ones that we love because we feel we are safe doing it with them. Maybe it is because the ones we “love” aren’t meeting our expectations or living up to our standards. Perhaps we feel those loved ones will still love me even when my raw side is showing. Unfortunately, what was maybe a once-in-a-while bad hair day, can become a habitual bad hair life. We can become abusive on a continual basis to the ones we should love and respect the most. It may be our husband, our wife, our children, parents, family or friends.
There is a great lesson here as we look at God’s love. We see His love is unconditional and that He did love us in spite of our inward ugliness. He teaches us to be the same in our love for others. We see it coming through in the attributes of His Holy Spirit, love, joy, longsuffering, self-control, kindness, goodness, peace, meekness, faith and gentleness. As His people these attributes should be an ever-increasing part of our lives. When others are ugly toward us we have to look with the eyes of the Spirit into their hearts and ask why is this person hurting so bad that they treat others this way? Is there anything I can do in Christ to minister and help to heal those inner hurts, wounds and scars?
In our closer personal relationships perhaps we may be reaping in our loved one seeds of discontent and strife that we have sown by our own actions or insensitivity. Perhaps we have played a big part in why this loved one has become that not so lovely person. What do we need to do out of the love of Christ and the love we have for them to change our dynamics toward them to relieve these angry and resentful feelings that they may be expressing? So often anger and emotion keep us from coming to a resolution of our issues. Sometimes the expression of our anger and emotion only serve to drive those we love further away from us and cause them to withdrawal. You will never bring the head of a turtle out of his shell when he knows he is going to get clubbed as soon as He shows it. We need a truce, a cease-fire and to lay our emotions aside. We need to reconcile ourselves through the love of God to really hear and respond to the issues of the heart. Most all of us are creatures of habits and it may be those habits that are a constant source of irritation and dysfunction. Let us love one another enough to change those habits and behaviors for their sake and to help them become that lovely person again that we once knew.
What is love? 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 says, “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” Let us love one another as God in Christ has so loved us.

Blessings,
#kent

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With Eyes Set Only upon Jesus

November 25, 2014

Ephesians 4:1-6
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called— 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

With Eyes Set Only upon Jesus

Set your eyes on none other than Jesus Christ, the high priest of your confession, for He alone is the author and the finisher of your faith. Many eyes are upon men, but no man can save you or transform you. There is one new man of which all the saints are a part. It operates out of the Spirit and anointing of Christ. It moves in accordance as the head directs it and energizes it with His power and life.
“It is not man that you are to be mindful of says the Lord, it is Me. Set your eyes upon Me for I will not disappoint you.”
Man will always disappoint. Follow after the example of Christ you see in others, but know that they are subject to the same weaknesses and frailties as you.
Jesus says there is only One good, God the Father. Our goodness is only in the measure that the Father expresses His righteousness through us by faith. Christ in you, that is your righteousness. The spirit of a man may be willing, but his flesh is sometimes weak. In all your ways, set your eyes upon Jesus. He is your Savior and Messiah.
Many are hurt and wounded in the body of Christ, because they have lifted up the man of God, rather than the Christ in him. When the man falls down, often the faith of the those looking to him falls with him. We do want to respect and hold in honor those who are spiritual leaders. While they may guide us and teach us, they can not save us. Never transfer upon them what only Christ can do for you. Our faith should never be moved by what happens to man. They walk by the same grace that holds you and I. Pray for them that they would not fall, for they are often under great attack and pressure. It is not our criticisms that will stay them, it is our prayers and intercessions for them. They bear the same infirmities and weaknesses as we do, but the burden of responsibility is so much greater upon them.
We are a body that under-girds one another, upholds one another, ministers and serves one another. What we give to leadership in prayer and support is every bit as important as what they can impart back spiritually. A true leader is not a lord, they are a servant. Their burden and responsibility are the ones they serve. Likewise the ones they serve have the responsibility to encourage, support and pray for them that serve in this office. None of us are above another, but some do carry greater responsibility. We all have the responsibility to help them to stand, not alone, but with the strength of our gifts (spiritually and monetarily) and our prayers.
Call no man Father, for you have but one Father, but know that there are those that father you in the faith and help you to grow in the likeness of Him. Respect and honor them, but do not set your faith and trust in them, but in the Christ they have led you to know and believe in.
This is no longer a day of big names and men of renown. It is a day when the kingdom is at work in the body of Christ teaching each of us to function in our gifts and callings. Each of us needs one another, for together, with Christ who is our head, we make up the whole new man in Christ Jesus.
Beloved, love one another, care for one another and pray for one another. Honor and pray for those that labor over you. Ephesians 4:11-13 tells us, ” It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” It is time for the body to grow up into the fullness of what God has called us to be in Christ. Ephesians 4:4 reminds us, “There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called— 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
Let us all flow in the unity of that one Lord who has loved us and gave Himself for us. Ephesians 4:25-32 goes on to exhort us in our behavior toward one another. ” Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27and do not give the devil a foothold. 28He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.
29Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
We are one another’s keepers. Lift each one up in the faith, in love and prayer He has called us too. In Him we are one man and one body.

Blessings,
#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

1 John 3:1-3
Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

A Calling unto Righteousness

When it truly dawns on our understanding and we comprehend the love that God has extended toward us to call us His own children, then it ought to truly change the way we view our world and ourselves. If we are truly born of God and His nature then our viewpoint and the way we live our lives should be fully from His perspective. We don’t see the full manifestation yet, but God’s purpose is to make us fully like Him. We may be infants in our understanding, but the direction of our crawl, our walk or our run should always be into the Father’s arms. He has called us out of sin and darkness to be a praise unto His name and an expression of His character and life. If we truly comprehend what He has called us unto then why wouldn’t we want to dress our life in purity and righteousness. 1 John 3 goes on to talk about how if we are in Christ we are in an attitude and direction of righteous living and being. It doesn’t mean we never sin or fall short, but sin is no longer the attitude and the abiding place of our hearts. Verses 4-9 say, “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. 5 And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. 6 Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. 8 He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. 9 Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.” If we are in Christ we can’t continue to live in an attitude and lifestyle of sin. That is contrary to our nature. Some of us have gone down that road for a time, but we know the grieving it brings in our spirit and our heart. We can’t truly love our God and continue to live like the devil. The purpose of Christ is to destroy the works of the devil; we can’t live in harmony and peace with God if we are recreating the works of unrighteousness through our lifestyle and behavior. God’s Word is pretty strong on this point; “He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning.” So who’s our daddy? Is it Father God or is it the devil? We will live out of the nature of the one to whom we belong.
God is calling us to sanctify and separate ourselves unto righteousness and purity. Our Christianity can not just be an ideology it must be who we are and what we live, think and breathe. For us to walk and live in sin is for us to deny the Christ and crucify Him afresh. If you are His then you have been called unto righteousness. Settle for nothing less and purify yourself in the hope of that calling.

Blessings,
#kent

Changing Garments

May 20, 2014

Changing Garments

Colossians 3:9-13
But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new [man], which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond [nor] free: but Christ [is] all, and in all. Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also [do] ye.

Every day we make a choice when we get up and get dressed what garment or clothes we are going to wear. Am I going to put back on what is lying at the foot of my bed or am I going to look in the closet and choose to wear a fresh clean set of clothes? The Word teaches us that when we come into a relationship with Christ and He is abiding in our spirits we must make an active choice with regard to our wills. There is an active daily decision on our part to put off the flesh along with our affection for it and put on the nature that conforms to His. When we were kids we were content and happy to wear the old dirty jeans with the holes in the knees and the old ratty tee shirt. Then mom would lay out a change of clothes and tells us this is what she wanted us to wear. Normally we rebelled, whined, argued, complained but we eventually complied. Left to ourselves we might still be wearing those old rags. Thankfully, most of us had a mom that began to teach us to dress for success. She taught us that the world evaluates and judges you by what they see you wearing. Fair or not, that is reality. As we began to wear those clean and neat clothes we began to perceive ourselves differently and it began to reflect in our attitudes. This was one of the reasons why, in times gone by, the schools used to have dress codes. God still has a dress code. Just like we needed to obey mom, we need to obey the Holy Spirit and the Word of God in regards to our behavior and the choices we make. Colossians 3:9 says, “But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.” It is time to throw out those old hole-filled, filthy jeans and raggedy tee shirts out and put on the new garments. It tells us, “Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new [man], which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him.” Do your ever find that what is astonishing and disheartening is that so many who claim to be and represent themselves as Christians have terrible ethics? They don’t keep their word; they’re often not totally honest and forthright. Quite frankly, we are often an insult and a slap in God’s face when it comes to our integrity. Don’t lie and say you are something you are not. Be what you say you are, in action, word and deed, having “put on the new [man], which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him.” When you change your clothes, change your underwear too! Be transformed and conformed to the nature of Christ from within to without. The word tells us this putting on the new man involves several things. What do the garments of Christ consist of? “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.” It goes on to say, “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 (nature and character) of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Everyday we make an active decision about what we are going wear both naturally and spiritually. Are we choosing to dress for success, by putting on Christ and putting off the flesh with all of its misdeeds? Our transformation is based upon our union and compliant relationship with the Spirit of God within us and the Word of God that instructs our minds and hearts. How are you dressing today? Are you changing garments?

Blessings,
#kent

Are You Putting Me On?

Galatians 3:27
For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

Let’s talk further of our spiritual wardrobe and how we are to clothe our whole man. The Word says that when we were baptized or immersed into Christ we have put on Christ. The struggle isn’t that we don’t have Christ, the struggle is with our thinking and old ways of behavior that must be transformed to the mind of Christ. Ephesians 4:22-24 says, “That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind. And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” Just as we choose each day which clothes we are going to wear, we make choices, either knowingly or unknowingly, about our mindset and how we are going to think and act. It can be all too easy to fall back into the rut of our former way of thinking and behavior because we fail to acknowledge who we are, how we should think, and consequently how we should act. We fail to come into union and alignment with the Holy Spirit on a constant basis to enable us to walk in the spirit and not in the flesh.
There is an active decision going on each day in us to press into and follow after Christ. Romans 12:1-2 reminds us that we are to give ourselves daily to renewing our minds; “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, [which is] your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” We are continually to pursue and put on that mind of Christ that walks by faith in our Father and not by the sight of natural things. This is a way contrary to our natural thinking and our former behavior. It is an area we must give ourselves too as we seek to come into concert with the Holy Spirit within us. Colossians 3:8-15 continues to give us further insight into the direction of this exchange and transformation, “But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new [man], which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him. Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond [nor] free: but Christ [is] all, and in all. Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also [do] ye.
And above all these things [put on] charity (love), which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.” The word is exhorting us to make right choices about our spiritual wardrobe. It is the reflection of who we really are in Christ. When Paul exhorts women about their outward apparel in 1 Timothy 2:9, “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;” he is simply saying let the outward man reflect the inward man. What we are inwardly should show forth in who we are outwardly.
Our spiritual man is not just about an attitude or way of thinking, it is also an armor and protection against the powers and influences of darkness that are ever there to tempt us, distract us, and undermine our authority in Christ. Romans 13:12 tells us, “The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.” Ephesians 6:11-13 says, “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high [places]. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” Paul goes on in this passage to explain the different parts of the armor and their spiritual application to us. We are not dressing to go to the mall; we are dressing for battle and spiritual warfare. If we fail to see the significance of our spiritual garments and wardrobe, then we are going to find our selves in those old sweaty garments of the flesh and spiritual defeat. Those aren’t the garments of heavenly attire. How does our Father want us to dress? ” But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to [fulfil] the lusts [thereof] (Romans 13:14).”

Blessings,
#kent

Hypocrisy

April 16, 2014

Hypocrisy

James 3:17
But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, [and] easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.

The definition of a hypocrite is, one who answers, an interpreter, an actor, stage player, pretender, one who is feigned, disguised or is insincere. It is one who wears a mask or false identity. It is a fact of human nature that what you see is not always what you get. From the time we are children we grow up learning to play the game of human interaction. We learn to put forward what others or society expects of us which often is not who we really are. We want to be people pleasers and accepted of others. Sometimes we have so many identities we don’t even know who we are.
Then, when we become Christians we are introduced to the religious system and we learn how to wear that mask. We learn the right phrases, how to act and put forward what is “acceptable Christian behavior.” Never mind the arguing, fighting and ugliness we showed toward our spouse and children as we were getting ready for church and on the way. As we step out of the car and walk into the church suddenly this transformation takes place. Suddenly we put on this godly smile and countenance and to those we encounter all is right with the world. If we are honest all of us have experienced this kind of behavior in our lives and probably still do. There is this duality in our lives that keeps us from being who we really are for fear that that is unacceptable. Many of us spend our lives living a lie and fashion ourselves around the dictates of others. We are so afraid of being seen in the nakedness of who we really are. It is true that many of us have some pretty hideous deformities and abnormalities in our lives, but are they ever dealt with and healed by masking them over. Our lives become one big game of pretending to be something or someone we really aren’t. What is worse, we then judge others out of our pretentious hypocrisy, because they don’t live up to the standard. The truth is they just don’t play the game as good as we do.
Is this what God wants us to be? If ever Jesus railed on anyone, it wasn’t the outright sinner it was the hypocrite. The one who liked to condemn and point the finger when inside he was no different than the ones he condemned. ” For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam [is] in thine own eye Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye (Matthew 7:2-5).”
We have been talking a lot about light and darkness. It is time we all come out into the light and be real with who we are. The truth is that most all of our lives are a mess in one area or another. We know that God sees us for who we really are. We know that it is only His power and grace that can transform us. How can this take place if we can’t even face up to who and what we are? It starts with us being honest with ourselves and with God. His love and mercy has already been extended to us in that, “while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” He loves us no matter how ugly the sin our lives has been, but He loves us too much to leave us that way. His desire is bring us out of darkness into the light so that there it is exposed and we can repent, receive forgiveness through the blood of Christ and begin a path in the opposite direction of our sin, dependent upon the Lord to help us walk that way. We are all in this walk together and we are going from glory to glory, but we are at different stages in our maturity and walk with God. Our purpose as a body is to help each other along the way. We have to deal with these sin issues with honesty if we are going to be set free of them. If we want to continue to hold on to them then the dealings must become more severe, because these are stumbling blocks and hindrances to who we really are in Christ and what He has called us to be. Romans 12:9 says, “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.” It is time that we quit playing games with God and with others and be real. Let’s deal with who we really are, because only then can we come into what God wants us to be. It is time we stop living the lie of hypocrisy and become the forgiven vessels of His mercy and grace no matter how humble that may be. “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, [see that ye] love one another with a pure heart fervently: (1 Peter 1:22).”

blessings,
#kent

Kingdom Inheritors

April 1, 2014

1 Corinthians 6:9-11
Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders 10nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Kingdom Inheritors

Romans 14:17-18 says, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.” We are not inheriting a kingdom of flesh, but of Spirit. God is making real to us who we are in Christ, that we are a spiritual and kingdom people being fashioned and transformed into His image and likeness. It is just as important to know who we are not in Christ. We are not what we used to be. We are not what we came out of. Those things have passed away and we are a new creature and creation in Christ Jesus. God makes it clear that His kingdom is not made up of the thinking, ideology and behavior of this world. Anyone that is still living and abiding in that paradigm in their thinking and living is not going to fit into the kingdom of God. If we want God’s kingdom there is only one way and that by being ‘washed, sanctified and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God’. The blood of Jesus is the only thing that has the power to transform our lives from the world that is lost outside of Christ to those are in Christ and become partakers of kingdom thinking, living and being.
The Corinthians in this text were having a hard time transitioning their thinking and being to kingdom principles and kingdom ways. The apostle Paul is telling them here that the former ways have no place in the kingdom. They are enmity to it. We live by a different standard and if we are not seeing the effectiveness and power of that kingdom, it may well be that things are not lining up in our thinking and living with kingdom principles and ways.
We have a righteous King of glory, Jesus Christ the Righteous, who is establishing His kingdom within the hearts and the lives of His people. If we consider ourselves His people then we need to find that place of complete submission to His Lordship. Most all of us would agree that we want to go to heaven when we die, but how many of us are willing to go there while we live? Ponder that question for a moment.
You see living heaven on earth is a place we find first in our spirits. Outwardly we still live in this world and as such we are faced with all of it trials and difficulties, as well as its pleasures, temptations and sins. Heaven comes to earth when we are living and walking out the life of Christ and the principles of the kingdom in our earthly life and vessel. We are the manifestation and expression of His kingdom in the earth. When we mix the two realms of flesh and Spirit we get a muddy mess. It is this muddy mess that defiles and taints the name of Jesus in the earth. The world sees in us a people that proclaims and preaches one thing, but then tries to live it out with natural thinking and human ways. No wonder they are put off by our hypocrisy. God gives us some grace here. We are growing and we are not fully matured yet, but it is important that our heart is after the kingdom of God and not the kingdoms of this world. Already we see them passing away and more than ever we are impressed with the truth that we must lay hold of His kingdom in mind, word and deed. Judgement is swiftly coming for the wicked, but our lives must stand as a testimony against all wickedness and perversity of men through the demonstration of righteous living and through the power of our love in Christ. We stand as a testimony to God’s alternative to judgement. We stand and walk with the light of hope and salvation for all that would believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and turn from their wicked ways. Heaven is here, but it needs you as a vessel to reveal it and unveil it. The kingdom of God has come, is come and is coming, but we are the revelation of its presence and reality in this world. How will they know the King unless they see the reality of His kingdom in you and I? We are where the rubber meets the road and where spiritual principles become practical reality in our daily living and actions. If the wicked would see Jesus, they must see Him through us, not through our condemnation, but through our love and righteousness.
A kingdom principle is, that our gain is often in our loss, and our life is found in our death. Paul reveals it this way in Philippians 3: 7-11, “But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. 10I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.” This is a kingdom mentality and thinking. It is how we transition into the kingdom of God. We become the less that He might become the more, till He becomes our all in all.

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

Longsuffering

January 31, 2014

 

Longsuffering


Ephesians 4:1-3

I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that you walk worthy of the vocation wherewith you are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; 

 Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 

 

Longsuffering, patience, forbearance are all attributes of our heavenly Father and those that are to be a part of our nature and behavior as we walk in the Spirit.  Many of us might have to admit that longsuffering and patience is not one of our stronger areas.  We have goals, agendas, deadlines and most of us are in the rat race of moving a hundred miles an hour through life trying to get as effectively and quickly from one point to the next in the shortest amount of time.  Time is a commodity that is precious to us.  There never seems to be enough of it.  We are usually rushing from the time our feet hit the floor until, exhausted, we fall into bed.  Invariably in our race through life there are the slow pokes, the obstacles, the things that don’t go right, the obstructions to what we have our eyes fixed on as our next destination.  Those are the things that raise our blood pressure, push our buttons and often cause us to get very irritable and impatient. Without realizing it we want everyone to be patient with us when we take our slow sweet time, or impede the procession of life in some way, but we have a hard time dealing with being on the other end.  All of these objectives we have and time crunches we are in make it very hard for us to be patient and longsuffering.  The human element and personalities of others often just drive us up the wall, because they aren’t meeting our expectations.   

We can even see the frustration of God’s heart when He deals with us time after time, after time with areas of our lives and we don’t seem to want to change or lay hold of it.  We read the rebukes of Jesus sometimes, even with the disciples, because what should be plain, they don’t get.  Yet Jesus doesn’t scream and shout, throw up His hands and walk away, He forbears with them.  All of us are aware in dealing with the dynamics of human relationships we can all become frustrated, which can lead to impatience and anger.  Then we end up acting and saying things that latter we feel like a horse’s rear end for having done.  

Think about Sunday morning, you’re trying to get ready and get to church on time, but somebody is in slow mode.  You hate walking in after things have already started, but its looking like you are going to be late again.  Frustration is building, you continue to ask if they are about ready, the other person begins to get irritated with your irritation and impatience, words start to be exchanged and before you know it war has broken out.  The trip to church is an exchange of angry words, frustrations and by the time you arrive, you at your spiritual best.  

The enemy is at work to always rob our peace and rest in Christ.  Sometimes our longsuffering is brought about through a lot of prayer and tongue biting.  The flesh, emotions and feelings are often hard to contain and maintain.  Isn’t it wonderful that we get so many opportunities to practice?  Most all of us struggle in these areas, but we must always be reminded that our position is that of the servant and putting others before ourselves.  It is often these surface issues of impatience that cause us to miss the deeper needs of people and how God would have us to minister to them.  We always have to remind ourselves that God’s business is our priority and not our own.  Sometimes I think God puts obstacles in our way to force us to slow down.  I’m convicted that I don’t want to become and be like God’s people of old, “For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and [their] ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with [their] eyes, and hear with [their] ears, and should understand with [their] heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them (Matthew 13:15).”  Where would you and I be today without the longsuffering of our Father?  We wouldn’t even exist.    

Sometimes the one I get most impatient with is myself, for all the stupid mistakes I make and all of the things I forget, but then, if it does nothing else, it should serve to give me patience and longsuffering with others; being as forbearing with them as I must be with myself.  As the Australian’s say, “ No worries mate.”  Let’s slow done and be aware of how God wants to move in us and though us, even in those often frustrating times and events that touch our lives.  We are learning to be His expression and that can only come through longsuffering and patience.

 
Blessings,
kent
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