Micah 6:8
He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

Three Things that God Requires

We, like the children of Israel before us, often carry a mindset that says we can live and operate on one set of values in the market place or our social lives and then another set of values when we want to approach God in church or worship. How many people that consider themselves Christians think that they can appease God by having a religion, offering their tithes or offerings, performing a few rituals and then it is back to business as usual. How many seek to put on a holy face before God on Sunday only to defraud their neighbor on Monday. How many times have those who wear the name Christian been less than ethical in their dealings with others and especially with other Christians. We try to live out of two different value systems as we compartmentalize our life into business, pleasure and religion.
God is saying that if you are truly a Christian then Christianity is your business. He is not appeased by what we try to do for Him and with our token efforts to please Him. He is interested in where our heart is. He tells us that there are three things that He requires of us. The first is to act justly. A just person is one who is upright in all of their ways. They act out of justice, fairness, without prejudice and favoritism. It is basically the act making right judgements. Every day we have to make decisions of right and wrong, of what benefits just us or what can do to benefit others and what is selfish and what is unselfish. When we act and live out of the mind of Christ, allowing the Spirit of God to direct our ways then we will act justly, because of Him who is the righteous judge within us.
The second thing the Lord requires is that we love mercy. When we live in this mercy we are living out of goodness, kindness and faithfulness not only toward God, but also toward our fellow man. In our society many of us are very big on our rights and our privileges. Many will not hesitate to take you to court or sue you if they think that you have violated their rights in some manner or you are in some way responsible for some misfortune. There may be times when that is necessary, but if we had more mercy, so many times it wouldn’t be. Mercy is the act of love that is longsuffering, slow to be offended, hasty to forgive and patient in tribulation. Often we as Christians are quick to judge the world and those of the world, especially when they don’t fit within the paradigm of what we think is proper and good. The mercy of Jesus was not shown favoring the arrogance and self-righteousness of the religious near as much as it was shown toward the outcast and the sinner. ‘Jesus came not to judge the world, but that world through Him might have life.’ He was a life-giver and life-imparter. The apostle Paul reminds us of God’s mercy toward us in Ephesians 2:3-5, “All 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.” God’s mercy working through us is to bring others into His mercy for them.
Finally, God says I require that you ‘walk humbly with your God’. Nothing can make us more humble than just reflecting upon the love and mercy of God toward us. When we walk in the fear of the Lord there will be that humility that expresses our submission and dependency upon Him. Many of us have forgotten that and with our wealth and prosperity we boast in what our hands have done. We tend to think we don’t really need God so much in our lives, at least not till things fall apart or we get into a major crisis. The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord and walking humbly with your God.
Paul sums these principles up so beautifully in Romans 12:3-21so let us conclude meditating upon this passage. “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. 4Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. 7If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.
9Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. 14Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. 17Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 18If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Blessings,
#kent

Advertisements

The Passion of Our Hearts

Psalms 86:12
I will praise thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart: and I will glorify thy name for evermore.

As Christians, brothers and sisters in Christ, we come from many different backgrounds and influences in our lives. We’ve even congregated and gravitated to groups or denominations that most reinforce our particular view, opinion and understanding of God and scripture. The primary problem we find with this is that it tends to separate us into different camps and we get caught up in internal squabbling over our sacred dogma or opinion. It seems to me that in this hour the Spirit of God is working in His body to tear down these walls of division. He is still “one body, and one Spirit, even as you are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who [is] above all, and through all, and in you all (Ephesians 4:5-6).” While it is fine for us all to have our own opinions about scripture, there are certain foundational truths we should all embrace and be in agreement about. What the Spirit of God wants to speak to us about is that our faith is not just about what we think or just us, it is about Him and what He thinks. The Word and Christ teaches us that the most important commandment is that, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. “ This is the foundation upon which all of the law and the prophets hinge and rest upon. If we miss this we are building upon sand. We all know the adage, “Divided we fall, united we stand”. This is why it is so important that unity be restored back into the body of Christ. Psalm 133:1 reminds us, “Behold, how good and how pleasant [it is] for brethren to dwell together in unity!” When part of my body starts conflicting and fighting with other parts I get sick and I can no longer function to my potential. God desires for us to lay down our pet peeves and doctrines and start becoming one with the rest of the body of Christ concerning what God’s will and purpose is for us in this hour. We must learn to build each other up and not tear each other down.
Isn’t it funny how when we meet someone and discover that they are a Christian, the first thing we want to ask them is, “where do you go to church”? We are more concerned about seeing what brand or mark of religion they have on them than seeing if the mark of Jesus is in them. We are all at so many different stages in our walk with God and most of us would agree that have been Christians for some time, that our views and ways of seeing and understanding things has changed over time. We may not have even accepted ourselves for the way we are now if we were judging ourselves by what we use to think and believe.
The thing that should be driving our lives is not our religion or denomination, but our passion for Christ and our love for Him. God sees men after the heart, not their denomination or belief system. What do you love the most? What is your deepest passion and desire? That is where Christ must be at the forefront or we are missing it. Our love and compassion for others should be a close second. Let us focus on what is important to God’s heart and not just our intellectual satisfaction. When we love and are able to lay hold of the truth, the truth will set us free from our wrong opinions. Often we think it is our duty to set everyone straight on how to believe. We need to quit stepping on the Holy Spirit’s toes and let Him do His job. Our responsibility is to judge our own hearts and make sure that we are walking in faith and obedience to Him. If we are all impassioned with Christ that will be our bond of fellowship and communion with one another and with Christ. Allow God’s law to be written upon the tablet of your mind and heart. “The letter of the law kills, but the Spirit gives life ( 2 Corinthians 3:6).” God’s Word will guide us and His Spirit will give us peace. Be at peace with your brothers and sisters in Christ. Love them where they are at and if you have a greater revelation or insight then speak it through the way you live your life and in your actions. Above all things, be passionate in your love and pursuit of Christ.

Blessings,
#kent

Take Hold of Life

January 8, 2015

Take Hold of Life
Poverbs 2:6-19
For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. 7 He holds victory in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, 8 for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones. 9 Then you will understand what is right and just and fair—every good path. 10 For wisdom will enter your heart,and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. 11 Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you.12 Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men, from men whose words are perverse 13 who leave the straight paths to walk in dark was 14 who delight in doing wrong and rejoice in the perverseness of evil, 15 whose paths are crooked and who are devious in their ways. 16 It will save you also from the adulteress, from the wayward wife with her seductive words, 17 who has left the partner of her youth and ignored the covenant she made before God. 18 For her house leads down to death and her paths to the spirits of the dead. 19 None who go to her return or attain the paths of life.
The questions this morning is why do we embrace death when the Lord has proclaimed and laid before us the path and way of Life? Blindly and ignorantly we accept whatever the world tells us and follow its mandates like it has the answers to Life. There is one source and fountain of Life. It is contained between the covers of your Bible and the Spirit of Life that quickens it to our understanding. Wisdom is spiritual life and understanding. Wisdom is not in us embracing every device and ad campaign of man that promises so much and delivers so little.
Where are we at today concerning our health, our life, our future and our finances? Are we walking in faith searching out and embracing by faith the Word and promises of God or are we listening to a spirit of death that tells us how we are dying? The Word of God has a good report; who are we going to believe. Do we find ourselves dependent upon the ways of man? Are our lives now ruled and in bondage to medications, prescription drugs, loans and debt, materialism and the philosophies of the world’s success? Are we moving in the realm of liberty and freedom of the Spirit, embracing God’s Words of life or are we giving ourselves self-appointed doom and defeat, because we embrace and profess with our mouths words contrary to the Life God wants to give us. We are a Kingdom of God people that should live in a kingdom culture and way of thinking. You see we have been conditioned by the lies of the enemy and our temptation is to believe that we have to go the way of the world and death. What we fail to realize is that what we are saying is man is true and God is a liar. I don’t think many of us come out and say it verbally, but our lives, habits and behavior are saying it.
Listen to what the today’s passage is saying. Do we really believe and embrace that? My wife has a wonderful habit. Almost daily she is putting on CDs of the Bible and playing them. Constantly she is putting the Word in her mind and heart, awake or sleeping, rather consciously or subconsciously it is feeding her spirit. The exhortation for today is for us to examine our lives and let go of the death and wrong thinking that we are embracing that is ministering death to us and not life. Feed upon the Life, embrace the Word of God and let it be your standard for every aspect of your life. The adulteress of this world’s system will lead you into death, “None who go to her return or attain the paths of life.” God has purposed us for Life, lay hold of it with all that is within you and hold fast to it that it might deliver you out of this life’s destruction and death. We are called unto life and godliness. If you lose you vision, you will lose your way.

Blessings,
#kent

A Different Culture

January 8, 2014

Ephesians 4:17-19

So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more. 


A Different Culture



Do the principles of the kingdom of God make sense to those that are in the world?  Of course not, for 2 Corinthians 2:14 tells us, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know [them], because they are spiritually discerned.”  The natural man and the spiritual man live under the dominion of two different kingdoms. One is the kingdom of light and truth and the other is the kingdom of sin and darkness.  When we came into Christ and received Him by faith into our hearts, the Word says that we were translated out of the kingdom of darkness and into the kingdom of God’s dear Son.  Colossians 1:13 says it this way, “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated [us] into the kingdom of his dear Son.”  We were transplanted, transposed into a whole new realm while physically we didn’t change and our local we didn’t change; yet inwardly a transformation began to take place.  A life that is given by surrendering its will to its Creator and Redeemer is no longer a life lived for self, but instead it is lived to the One who redeemed it.  Sin hardens a person’s heart toward God. It robs a person of the ability to discern, understand and know the ways of God.  Just as hate blinds a person to love, so sin blinds a person’s eyes and heart to “The Truth”.  Because the natural man has become insensitive to spiritual things they are foolishness to him and as a result he becomes ignorant to the truth.  That ignorance and unbelief keeps him in a state of separation from God and in a place of the judgement that is already in place against all ungodliness and wickedness.  Some have deluded themselves by thinking that because they are a pretty good person and they do lots of charitable acts that God receives them because of that and they can earn their way to heaven.  The Word declares in Romans 3:23,  “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”  Ephesians 2:1-9 tells us where we were and how we came back to God. “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.”  It is because of this wonderful undeserved grace that has translated us out of darkness and into light, that we can no longer live as those who are still in darkness do.  We have changed our culture.  If I am truly a Christian how can I live contrary to my culture?  Just as a Muslim or a Buddhist can’t live as a Christian, because it is contrary to their beliefs, a Christian should no longer live as the world, which is contrary to his or her beliefs.  My being, culture and moral compass is now rooted in Christ.  He has made me His temple and dwelling place; to now live as the world, is a betrayal and defilement of His sanctuary and of the covenant I have entered into with Him.  A covenant is a life binding agreement and commitment unto death.   Christ sealed it in His own sinless blood.  How can we then live as the world when He has given His life to take us out of it and into His righteousness?  How can we adulterate any longer His holy covenant with actions that are conformed to this world?  We, who are in Christ, are a holy people set apart for God’s own possession.  We must realize who we are, what we were called for and what our responsibility is to the holy calling and salvation we have graciously received.  Obedience is to honor Him you proclaim as Lord.  

 
Blessings,
kent

I Shall Not Be Moved

October 16, 2013

I Shall Not Be Moved

Psalms 62:2&6

He only [is] my rock and my salvation: [he is] my defence; I shall not be moved.

When any of us go to build a house or a structure the fundamental issue is to build it on a solid foundation. We not only have to consider the foundation itself, but also the soil conditions of where that foundation is setting. If the soil is expansive it could swell and crack our foundation and our structure. If it is unstable and not solid, it could settle and do the same thing. If the soil is to sandy or shifting, again our house is at risk, so the foundation has as much to do with the soil conditions as it does the footing our structure is built upon.

Spiritually we must use much of the same logic when we make the decision about how to build our lives. We want our lives to be secure and stable. We want our belief system to be solid and basically unchanging. We know that as we mature in Christ and in our understanding that many things will change in the way we think and view things, but there are certain principles and fundamental truths that should not change. They are our foundation. The stability of our whole house rest upon our foundation. We are not moved, because our foundation is not moved. When our house was built that foundation became the fundamental part of our house. It is not separate, but is a key component of the house.

The Word teaches us that Christ is the Rock, the spiritual cornerstone of his temple, which we are. The reason we will not be moved is because of who He is, an unmovable, unchanging Lord and God who is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). When our lives are rooted and grounded in Christ then we become a very stable people because we know whom we are, where come from and where we are going. We have purpose and direction in our lives. We know we have resources that the world does not have, because our strength comes from the Lord. David, in Psalms 62 in verses 7 and 8, goes on to say, “In God [is] my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, [and] my refuge, [is] in God. Trust in him at all times; [ye] people, pour out your heart before him: God [is] a refuge for us. Selah.” David had come to know, as we must, that life can be very unstable and undependable, but God is not. Our stability and security is in Him who is our strength and our refuge.

Many of us are prone to compromise concerning our faith and the values we get from God’s Word. If we continue down this path without correcting our course and getting back on spiritual track then our house starts to lean and deteriorate. It is not because our foundation is bad, but because we have left it and started building on unstable ground that is sure to bring us to a disastrous and destructive end. Where are you building your house and your life today? Is it built on the uncertainty and instability of the world or have you made the stand that, “I shall not be moved”. Is your confidence, faith and reliance solely upon the Lord and His strength, life and faithfulness as your foundation? We know there is not a problem with Christ the foundation, so if something is moving, shifting, settling, falling, check what your foundation is. Jesus gave us the parable in Matthew 7:24-27, “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.” It is not what we hear and know that makes for a sure foundation, it is what we “do with what we hear and know” that determines if we stand or if we fall.

Blessings,

kent

The Labor of Love

September 3, 2013

The Labor of Love

Galatians 4:19
My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,

A woman and prospective mother endures all of the discomforts and demands of pregnancy for the joy and the hope that she carries within her. Then comes the day of the birthing, which without modern medicine is on the extreme of pain, discomfort and tremendous laboring. Yet she will endure all of that, not only once, but often, again and again for the joy of the life that it brings forth. Out of all that pain, discomfort and labor a miracle is brought forth. The miracle of a newborn life, formed in the image of its maker and its parents. This was Paul’s analogy in describing what it was to Him to birth Christ in others. It wasn’t just about telling them about Jesus and having them come to the altar and pray the sinner’s prayer. That may have been where it began, but certainly not where it ended. That was only the conception. The process of Christ’s life being formed in these former Gentiles and Jews was a long process of intense prayer and intercession, teaching and counseling, living before them the example of Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit, forming the likeness of Christ in them. Far too often, after Paul had poured out His heart and soul in love and instruction to these new converts to Christ, he would experience the heartbreak of them turning aside to another doctrine, or becoming caught up again in legalism or allowing sin to come again and pervert the purity of their faith. No one knows like a parent, the heartbreak you feel when your child turns away from the path of righteousness and understanding that you have laid before him or her. Slowly, patiently, repetitiously you taught your children from infancy, through childhood, puberty and into adulthood. You sought to instill your belief system and core values into them. All that you valued and hold dear, you tried to impart to them. You continually prayed for them and when they were younger you prayed with them to help them establish a relationship with their God and yours.
Oh, the sting and the heartbreak you felt if at some point they rejected your values, the truths you held dear, and made choices in another direction. You may not only have prayed for them, but pleaded with them and reasoned with them to help them to see and repent from the error of their ways.
This principle is true when discipling and pouring out your life so that Christ might be formed in others. Often it is those ones that so loved you and would have done anything for you that now take on a different spirit. Now they despise and reject you because of the truth you are trying to speak into them. In Galatians 4:16 Paul says, “Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?” Often truth is no longer our friend, or the messenger who bears it, when it goes in the face of what we want to believe and the direction we want to go. As rebellious and as otherwise directed as some may become, the love of God compels the travail of love that seeks to love them and bring them back into the truth and right fellowship of who they are in Christ. It does not cease its travail until again Christ is formed in them.
We can all thank God for parents, teachers, pastors, mentors, friends and those ones God has placed in our lives to help establish and form Christ in us. Many of us can look back at times we may have erred or lost our way and yet these ones the Lord set in our lives did not forsake us, or reject us. They prayed for us, they may have tried to counsel with and speak the truth into our lives, but they continued to love us even when we rejected and were perhaps hateful with them. They continued to demonstrate the tenacious love of God for us that ‘it is not God’s will that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance’ (2 Peter 3:9).
Someone has labored over your life today so that Christ might be formed in you. Someone is caring and praying for you even in those times you may have slipped back or turned another direction. It is the Spirit of Christ in us that causes us to travail as Paul did. Sometimes the source of deeper inner groanings and utterances are birthed of the Spirit and not in the understanding of man. God’s desire for each one of us is not just for us to have a religious understanding of who God is. It is that the revelation of “Christ in you” is formed, birthed and established in you so that we would no longer live and function out of natural understanding and desire, but out of the mind, will, love and heart of the Christ that indwells us and of whose nature we now are. We all are the labor of His love.

Blessings,
kent

Old Things Obstruct the New

Hebrews 9:6-8
Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service [of God]. But into the second [went] the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and [for] the errors of the people: The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing:

As I was looking around my yard and home today I was noticing areas where we have made improvements, remodeled and changed our existing structure and yard. I also noticed how much of the remnants of those old things still remained and cluttered my house and yard. Either I hadn’t gotten around to getting them hauled off or I thought they might come in handy someday, so for whatever reason they remain cluttering up our lives and home, keeping us from fully enjoying the fullness of the improvements that we have made. It occurred to me that our spiritual lives are a lot like that. While we don’t remove the foundation of our homes we do update and make improvements to our existing structure. The same is true of our spiritual lives. We are continually growing in our revelation and understanding of God, of who we are in Him and who He is in us. Why aren’t some these revelations having a more profound effect in our relationship with God?
The Lord showed me some time back that He gave the tabernacle of Moses, the priesthood and that spiritual service as a type and shadow of the true spiritual tabernacle and service that is revealed in Christ and His Church. This is clearly seen and discussed in the book of Hebrews. What the Holy Spirit brought to my attention is the little phrase contained the scripture above, “the Holy Spirit thus signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing (Hebrews 9:8).” Now we know through the Word that when Christ died upon the cross, the veil in the temple was literally torn supernaturally from top to bottom, the Lord spiritually signifying to us that we all now have access into the Holy of Holies, His very presence. Hebrews 10:19-20 verifies this by saying, “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus. By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh.” Why is it that now that we have access to the Father we are not experiencing the measure of His fullness and presence we so desire? Much of it may have to do with the excess baggage we are still carrying with us from our former belief system that was steeped in law and the traditions of men. It may be that our first tabernacles are still standing or least remnants of them. We have our own religions, denominations, agendas and our own way of doing things. So much of it is not placed there by the Spirit of God, but by man, much of it by man’s own prejudices and opinions. While, in many cases it contains elements of truth, is it the truth of the revelation that God has for us in this hour. Just as the tabernacle of Moses and priestly service was truth in the day of Moses, in God’s reality it was only pointing the way to a deeper truth and reality of God’s true spiritual tabernacle contained in Christ and His Church. 2 Corinthians 3:18 says, “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, [even] as by the Spirit of the Lord.” The Lord is conforming and transforming us to His image from glory to glory, from understanding to understanding, from revelation to revelation. We are continually maturing and should be growing up into Him in all things. The question is, as we are growing in our understanding and revelation are we still clinging to the old? Do we still maintain our former belief system, our former mentality, our former thinking and level of faith? Is there a lot of clutter in our spiritual house that is hindering us from experiencing a deeper and more meaningful relationship with God’s presence? The only way we can enter into the Holiest of all is in full assurance of faith and the blood of Jesus. What other things in our lives and in our beliefs are we using to try and gain this access. The Lord Jesus has done it all, but we may not be experiencing it all because as long as the former temple is still standing the Holiest of all is still not going to be made manifest to us. The truth is most of us need to clean house and get rid of whole lot of junk that is doing nothing but hindering us from moving into a richer and more meaningful experience with God. This is where we need to begin to seek the Holy Spirit’s help in identifying and getting rid of old ways of thinking and believing that are not inline with His present revelation and truth. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” As the old things have passed away we must get rid of even the remnants of them from our lives that we may come, unencumbered into the fullness of the new, into His Holy presence, with boldness, fullness of faith and with the blood of Jesus.

Blessings,
kent

Take Responsibility

June 28, 2013

Take Responsibility

Genesis 3:11-13
11 And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”
12 The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”
13 Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”
The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

Even from the beginning of time people have not wanted to take responsibility for their own actions and consequences. Even as we see Adam and Eve passing the blame for disobedience to someone else, so it continues today. We are continually reading about lawsuits that people actually win where it is obvious that there own negligence, ignorance or stupidity was to blame, but someone else has to pay for it. We obviously want to assume as little responsibility and accountability for our actions as is humanly possible. As a result of the sue-happy society that we live in, attorneys get rich on malpractice and liability insurance because any little thing gone wrong could result in a lawsuit and someone’s bankruptcy. Obviously there are many occasions when someone’s omission or commission causes harm or loss to another. That is where they need to take responsibility for their action or mistakes.
How does that affect us as Christians? Do we carry the same mindset and practice of the world? Jesus gives us principles in the Word that definitely are contrary to the standards and responses of the world. He says in Matthew 5:38-42, “”You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” “ The standard that Jesus gave was to go beyond what is required to give and forgive. That pretty much flies in the face of our human nature that wants to do just the opposite and yet that it is a Christ standard of behavior.
Most of us would say, but don’t you know if you do that you are just going to be a door mat for others to walk all over you? You have to stand up and fight for your rights. Is that what Christ taught us? It doesn’t mean we are without principles and that we don’t stand for our beliefs, but when we go beyond the expected we become empowered because we choose to give beyond what was required.
Paul addresses an even more disturbing situation that still exist among the church today. It concerns the lawsuits among believers in 1Corinthians 5:1-11: “1If any of you has a dispute with another, dare he take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the saints? 2Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? 3Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! 4Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, appoint as judges even men of little account in the church! 5I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? 6But instead, one brother goes to law against another—and this in front of unbelievers!
7The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? 8Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers.
9Do 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.” It is a sad state when brother defrauds brother or when we have to go into the world’s court system to seek the world’s justice. Matters of difference should be arbitrated by the church if, not forgiven altogether.
Many of us still operate our lives by the natural laws that govern men. Christ has given us an even higher standard to follow and it is one our flesh probably isn’t going to like, but we need to exercise godly principles. Maybe you have a legitimate complaint against another but forgiveness needs to be the order of the day, because Christ first forgave us and gave us what we did not deserve and could not earn. That is the heart He wants for us to live out of. This is a foreign concept to many of us and the way we have been brought up to think and believe. Jesus practiced this principal most of effectively in the cross. He took responsibility and paid the price for a debt that was not His own. We will have our crucifixion experiences as well if we are in Him, because “as He is so are we in this world. “ Are we willing to take the responsibility for our actions while at the same time often forgiving the faults and sins of others against ourselves? Such is the law of Christ.

Blessings,
kent

Labels are for Cans

May 8, 2013

John 8:31
So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples,

Labels are for Cans

Do you ever notice how our culture always likes to put labels on people, as if by a label we can accurately judge the content. We label people by race, color, creed, religion, denomination, by what your job or career is and by who you hang out with. Maybe it is just in our nature to categorize people by labels, then we can generically place them where they fit best in our thinking and even our prejudice.
I always hated labels, because every individual is different and while we may share certain commonalties that doesn’t make me a this or a that. Even in the religious world everyone feels more comfortable if they categorize you by faith, church or denomination. Immediately, that somehow qualifies us to judge rather this person is on my side or the other side.
Multitudes of people wear the label of “Christian”. What does that mean, that they were raised to believe in a God or that they really follow Christ?
Jesus didn’t come to gather Christians, He came to make disciples. A disciple is someone who has more than a casual belief in something; it is a person that follows a certain discipline. What was the discipline of Christ? According to John 8:31 it is abiding in His Word, then are you truly a disciple. It is a lifestyle, not just a belief. It is the fabric of what you live out of.
In John 13:35 Jesus give us another qualification and evidence of being His disciple. “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” Wow, we don’t always see that working among a lot of the so-called body of Christ. Do your really love your brothers and sisters or just the one that fit under your label and even there, there if further divisions and discord.
Here is another qualification that Jesus gives us as a disciple in Matthew 16:24, “Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone wants to follow me, he must deny himself, pick up his cross, and follow me continuously.”” Again in Luke 14:27 He says, “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” We have to be willing to go where Jesus went and to suffer what Jesus suffered. It means as Paul said in Galations 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
How are we doing so far? Are we just “Christians” by label or disciples by action and lifestyle?
Luke 14:26 gives us another hard one, “”If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters–yes, even their own life–such a person cannot be my disciple.” That means that in comparison to our love and commitment to Jesus, not even the ones we treasure and love most in the earth can compare, not even our own selves. Our service, love, allegiance and commitment is first and foremost to Him. In comparison to that love, we hate all else.
It is easy for us to get comfortable under the label of Christianity, but that is not what Jesus called us to and that is not what He called us to do. In Matthew 28:19 Jesus gives us this commission, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” He didn’t tell us to make Christians or even believers or sell everyone on this ideology. He told us to go a make disciples and how can we do that if we aren’t one?
This should convict all of us of the high calling we have in Christ Jesus and the cost of what He asks us to pay. Do we just embrace it with our minds or are we walking it out in our lifestyle as we abide in Him? True Christianity is so much more than just labels it is the content of who we are in Christ.

Blessings,
kent

Matthew 24:35
Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

Trivial words fade quickly from the hearing,
as does the familiarity of life from our memory.
When that which is trivial and familiar is passed away,
is there the substance of faith and reality to take its place?
When all that is known, becomes unknown,
and the life we’ve known comes tumbling down,
is our foundation strong to build again upon
those things which can not be moved, eternally sound?
Heaven and earth will pass away,
but God’s Word will always remain.
He is the confidence that anchors our hope,
when all else is stripped from its context and frame.

When Life gets Turned Upside-down

There can come a time in our life, and it may have already occurred in yours, when either naturally of supernaturally our world, as we know it, falls apart. All that was familiar and comfortable becomes unhinged and discomfited. We may lose our career, a loved one passes, we are bankrupted, our children run away or get in trouble; there are multitude of ways our life can get turned upside down. While those transitions in life are rarely desirable, they may put to the test all that we have lived and believed. All of sudden all the beliefs that we had neatly folded in our box become dumped out and the very fabric of all that we called faith is tested. In those moments of turmoil we may be desperately trying to find God in the midst and thick of it.
“How could He let this happen?” “Why?” ” Where are you God?”
It is probably much the way Job felt when satan was allowed to touch his life in almost every area. If we in our natural mind and reasoning, then all we can see and comprehend are our natural circumstances. We may have grown so accustomed to the blessings of God that we thought we were immune to the trials of life, but God never promised us a life without trials. Satan’s purpose through the trials might be to kill, steal and destroy. Most of all, he wants you to doubt God’s love and faithfulness, so that you would turn from God and count Him unfaithful. He wants to steal your identity in Christ.
We have to ask ourselves in the story we see of Job, what was God heart and His ultimate purpose in allowing such calamity, pain and devastation in Job’s life? In the end it gave Job a greater revelation of God in His holiness and majesty. In the end, because Job retained his integrity and faith, God promoted him to a place of priesthood where he was interceding and making sacrifice for his accusers and fault-finders and he was brought into a double portion of all that he formerly had, as great as that already was.
Father isn’t out to make us fail or to make our lives miserable, but out of pain is often birthed a greater blessing that can bring us up higher into Him. We won’t always understand its purpose at the time and it may feel like God has totally abandoned and forsaken us, but He is causing us flex our faith, not our intellect or natural abilities. He is causing us to trust Him in what we can’t see. Our response should be to bless the Lord in those times, not to curse Him and turn away. Even Job, without the Word of God to draw upon had a revelation of this truth in his heart.
Job 1:21-22 says that after Job heard of all that had come upon his property and family, “At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship 21and said:
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart.
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.”
22In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.”
Will that be our response if and when our world is turned upside down? These will be the times when the true metal of our faith will be tested. It may be so bad, we don’t think it could be any worse and then it gets worse and it continues to get worse, but God never ceases to be God or to sit upon the throne. If we truly know Him, He will be the anchor in the storm that keeps us from running aground on the rocks of circumstances and unbelief. He is still there in the boat with us as we are weathering our storm and it may seem He is asleep in the hull of the boat and oblivious to all that is happening around us. We may be crying out, “Lord, don’t you care that we perish?”.
Just remember if you perish, Christ perishes with you, because He is in you. In those times, can you still remember who you are, “IN CHRIST”? Circumstances can change, but God’s word doesn’t change and Jesus doesn’t change. He is the same, yesterday, today and forever. You anchored to eternity in Him. Even if your outward man would perish, you have a building, a tabernacle made by God, eternal in the heavens.
What we must have as saints of God, is an immovable faith and trust that can not be shaken by heaven or hell. A faith so grounded in Christ that even when our mind can’t wrap itself around it and our reason fails us, our faith remains steadfast and firm. Either God is who He says He is or we have believed in vain.
There may be or come times in our life when nothing makes sense. That is when faith in God’s Word is your anchor. We may be in total disorientation and vertigo, but just as a pilot in darkness and storm must rely upon his instruments to give him bearing and orientation, so we must do with the Word of God. We can’t trust our senses, our feelings or even our intellect; to do so could prove fatal. God’s Word must remain the anchor of our soul, because we know that even though all else would pass away, God’ Word remains.

Blessings,
kent

%d bloggers like this: