Instructions for Life

September 11, 2015

Proverbs 4:13
Take fast hold of instruction; let [her] not go: keep her; for she [is] thy life.

Instructions for Life

Every day is a classroom of instruction, learning and experience. Much like school when we were children, many of us still don’t pay very close attention. God has something to teach us every day if we are tuned into the Spirit and we have spiritual ears tuned to hear what He is speaking. As we grow to know God’s Word we are learning instruction in spiritual, as well as practical life. God gives us the principles to live full, productive and satisfying lives, but are we listening, are we paying attention and are we applying these life principles to our lives? Often we nod, say an amen and acknowledge them with our minds, but have they gotten down into our hearts?
Just like in school there is a time of listening, studying and learning; then there is a time of testing to find out what we really know and remember. It is our testing that really tells us where we are. God already knows where we are, but most of the time we really don’t. It isn’t till we are put to the test of faith in certain areas that we see if we really have learned to trust God and apply the principles that He has taught us or if we resort back to acting out of the natural man and that way of thinking.
Often we can be going through life filled with joy and being blessed and then suddenly wham!!!!!!!!! We are hit with a punch that knocks our breath out. Tragedy may strike, we are treated unfairly, we are fired, our spouse wants to divorce us, we are faced with a life threatening disease in ourselves or one that we love and life no longer makes sense. Any number of things may assault us at any given time. How will we cope with these calamities? This is where the rubber meets the road and theory meets reality. Can we now make application in our lives of the things that we have learned and have knowledge of or are we sitting there stunned, shaking our heads and asking, “why me, God?” God says that it rains on the just and the unjust. Whether we are in Christ or in the world, tragedy and calamities are a very real part of life in this body. The life, the power and the grace that takes us through these times are found in the instruction that God has given us. Fortunately, it is an open book test and if we are struggling to make sense of all that is going on with us we can go back to the instruction of God’s Word. There we can find the answers that will help us to gain the perspective and even the faith that we need to prevail in difficult times
Jesus assures us that we will have tribulation in this world, but to be of good cheer, for He has overcome the world (John 16:33). What does that mean to us? If our life is hid with Christ, in God as Colossians 3:3 says, then you also have overcome the world. The Overcomer dwells within you to help you walk where He has walked and prevail in victory where He has prevailed. Yes, we will have tribulation, but we are promised that we don’t have to face it alone. Christ is always there with us and the last part of Romans 8 assures us that there is no calamity or being or even death itself that can separate us from the love of God.
How do we pass the test? It is first in listening and learning the instruction of the Lord. Proverbs 6:3 says, “For the commandment [is] a lamp; and the law [is] light; and reproofs of instruction [are] the way of life.” God in His love shows us, teaches and corrects us. If we are wise we will receive His correction and we will grow wiser still. Proverbs 9:7-12 teaches us, “”Whoever corrects a mocker invites insult; whoever rebukes a wicked man incurs abuse. 8 Do not rebuke a mocker or he will hate you;
rebuke a wise man and he will love you. 9 Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning. 10 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. 11 For through me your days will be many, and years will be added to your life. 12 If you are wise, your wisdom will reward you; if you are a mocker, you alone will suffer.”
Learning and putting into practice our instruction is what is maturing us into the image of Him that is our teacher. It is God’s purpose and plan that we are like our Teacher and Master. If we will humble ourselves before Him, He will give us the instructions to a godly life and He will help us in the tests to practice the principles that He has taught us. Pay attention to His instruction and humbly receive His correction, ‘for whom the Lord loves He chastens’. Hebrews 12:7-13 leaves us with this exhortation, “Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? 8If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. 9Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! 10Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. 11No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

Blessings,
#kent

The Pruning

January 19, 2015

The Pruning

John 15:1-2
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.

The true substance and character of a healthy and fruitful branch is not in the outward, but in the inward. The outward is the glory and the fruit of the inward, but it is not the substance of it.
Why does God want to prune us even when we are fruitful? It is so that we can bear more fruit. Our outward fruitfulness may be already abundant and good, but human nature is such that even when we are spiritually fruitful, pride and complacency can creep in. When God blesses our lives with much increase in whatever dimension that takes place, it isn’t long before that little voice starts saying, ‘look what I have done’. Pruning keeps us focused on the vine and the source of our substance and fruitfulness. It creates renewed dependence upon the vine and strips the glory from the self. It helps us to not just dwell and live upon past experiences, miracles and victories. It serves to stretch us and cause to grow when we would be complacent to remain as we are. Without pruning things tend to grow wild. There may be a lot of growth, but not as much fruit. Pruning then brings focus. It keeps our eyes upon the Spirit and not upon the flesh. It causes us to remember our source of life and fruit so that we boast in the Vine and not in ourselves.
Don’t despise the days of pruning. They are the loving hands of the Father at work in you, His children. Left to itself, a branch may produce leaves, but not fruit and eventually even the leaves will die. The branch then must be cut off and cast out. It becomes a detriment to the health of the vine. Thank God He loves us enough that He doesn’t want that to happen to us and so He cares for us in what often may seem to be severe ways. Those who know Him rest in the passage from Romans 8:28, “All things work together for the good of those who love Him and called according to His purpose.” Often we don’t understand the why and wherefore of all that takes place in our lives, but our eyes and our hearts must remain steadfastly upon the Vinedresser. He is working all things for His glory and our good. He will never maliciously harm that which He loves and cares for, but do what is necessary to bring it to its highest and best potential and productivity.
What hinders the process of the pruning and in turn our growth, is our self, our ego and stubbornness to pursue our own interest and do our own will. In addition to this we often get offended at God or others that God uses in the process of our pruning. If it doesn’t make sense to us, then it must not be fair or just. God sees the end of a thing and we tend to get hung up and focused on the process. This is why it is so important to have a vision that sees the high calling that we have in Christ Jesus and not let anything or any circumstance detour us from that vision and that goal. Our ability to run the race is in that One who has called us to it and not in ourselves. Our reliance must always remain on Him and not on us.
Just remember Hebrews 12:7-11, “If] you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? 8 But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. 11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” God is training His people up to produce something more than religious flesh. He is preparing a people with the substance and the nature of His Son. So don’t neglect to praise Him even when it hurts. He loves you and He is ever working for your good.

Blessings,
#kent

God at Arm’s Distance

July 18, 2013

God at Arm’s Distance

Revelations 3:15-20
I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and [that] the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

Did you ever have a relationship with a person where you really liked them, but you wanted to keep a little space with them, you really wanted the relationship on the terms of your comfort level? Many of us have those kinds of relationships in our marriage where we love our husband or wife, but we want our own space to live our own life and do our own thing. We want a relationship, but we want it at arm’s length, a place we can either pull away or be close, but not feel too confined. Isn’t that very much like the relationship many of us have or have had with the Lord? We believe in Christ, we love God, but we are afraid to get to close to Him. We’re afraid He might let us down, or we’re afraid He might require too much of us, or we’re afraid we’ll have to give up the things we love and want to do. Fear is the counterpart of faith. Hebrews 11:6 says, “But without faith [it is] impossible to please [him]: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and [that] he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Herein is contained a promise of God that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. For a lot of us there is truth we would rather stay ignorant of or things we would rather not hear, because it requires of us accountability and we rather like things the way they are. I know these things because I see so many of them in me. I don’t always like it when somebody speaks the truth to me in areas where I am comfortable and don’t really want to change, yet I know that if I refuse to hear the truth and harden my heart, I am shutting out the Holy Spirit. I am holding out my arm and saying to God, “don’t come any closer Lord, you are infringing upon my territory, my self will.” Then I am reminded that I am not my own, He bought me with a price and my life belongs to Him completely and without reservation.
So many of us, especially here in America, have been so blessed and we have enjoyed so many things and privileges that we have become fat and satisfied. We are the Laodicean Church it speaks about hear in Revelation 3. “We are rich, increased with goods and have need of nothing.” In the natural that is true, but in the spirit it has left us “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” We can’t serve two masters and when we choose to be rich in the things of the world we suffer spiritually.
Most of you who read this faithfully are those who are willing to hear the truth even when it is convicting and most who don’t may not want to read it because the Lord does deal with us in hard areas that we maybe rather not have to deal with. The truth is we will have to deal with these issues either now while there is still time for us to align ourselves with the will of God or when it is too late and we experience the displeasure of the Lord. If there is one theme the Lord seems to be reiterating again and again through these writings it is that He is calling out a people for His Name, a people He wants to have relationship with and bring out of the common into the Most Holy Place. He is calling us higher into Him. The Lord is a consuming fire and as He draws us into His bosom and into His heart that fire is going to become hotter and hotter to our flesh till it consumes it more and more. Will we welcome his embrace which means we will buy the gold of His nature tried in the fire and we will put on the white raiment and clothing of His righteousness? Will we anoint our eyes with the salve of His Truth so that we might see by the Spirit and no longer by the flesh? Will we receive the rebuke, the correction and chastening of the Lord that brings us to repentance because we have quit holding God at a distance, surrendered our whole heart and said, “Yes Lord, I want all of you no matter what the cost.” Some of us need to make that commitment today in our lives. Perhaps we had in the past, but have found ourselves again compromised with the world. It was to the Church that Jesus said, “Behold I stand at the door and knock. If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” Jesus is calling out for us to come back into right relationship with Him, to sup with Him, to “eat of His flesh and drink of His blood” so that we might have life and have it more abundantly. We can never give up anything in this life that the Lord requires of us but what it will result in so much more in Christ. Instead of holding God at a distance open your arms and embrace Him with a full commitment of your love and devotion. “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches (Revelations 3:21-22).”

Blessings,
kent

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