Luke 18:18-29

18A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 19″Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 20You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.'” 21″All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said. 22When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 23When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth. 24Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! 25Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” 26Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?” 27Jesus replied, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.” 28Peter said to him, “We have left all we had to follow you!” 29″I tell you the truth,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God 30will fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life.”

Hidden Issues of the Heart

We never truly see the fiber and the substance of our being until we are stretched beyond the boundaries of our comfort and norm.  There we see the flaws often hidden from sight.  We can oftentimes see ourselves much like this rich young ruler if we are willing to acknowledge it.  We love and have a zeal for God.  We try to keep His word and commandments.  We feel in our hearts that we truly love God.  We want to serve Him and we hunger and want more of Him.  We acknowledge that we have already done the fundamental requirements.  

“We have done all of these Jesus, what more do I need to do?”  

When Jesus puts His finger on our true heart issues.  He goes where we don’t want Him to go.  He goes to those little sanctuaries and strongholds of self that hold our affections.  It is those areas that often we don’t even realize how much they mean to us until we are asked to give them up.   For the rich young ruler it was his riches and wealth.  It had become what defined who he was and his identity was in his position and wealth rather than in God.  When Jesus touched on His heart issue it made the young man very sorrowful.  The Greek word here conveys that it was sorrow as to cause one’s death, a deep grief and grieving.  Jesus asks him to exchange his riches on earth for the riches of the kingdom of heaven.   He couldn’t bring himself to do what Jesus asked of him.  

Most of us want to continue on and be content with where we are spiritually.  When we begin to really hunger for more of God and ask God for more, then we have to be willing to pay the price.  We have to be willing to deal with our heart issues and the little strongholds of self that we still want to hold on too.  It grieves us to give them up, but we can never give up something, but what He will not give us so much more, if not in this life, then in the life to come.  

When the Lord allows circumstances and people to come into our lives that stretch us out of our comfort zones.  It is there that we begin to often see how shallow our love really is, how easily we are often offended and put out with those who step on our toes and our rights.  What God shows me is that there is far more of me there than I want to acknowledge and lay claim too.  When He stretches me and proves me and sounds the depths of my heart that is when I often find how shallow the waters of His love are in me.  If we want more of God then there is always more of a relinquishment of self.  The way of obtaining and walking in resurrection life is through the cross and through the death of this former man.  We can mentally and spiritually aspire to it, but it has to become substance in our lives.  

There is an old saying that “no one can get your goat, unless you have a goat to be got.”  How many goats are we still hanging onto?   We must not fail the challenge that the rich young ruler had.  The things of this earth are perishing and passing away, but His life is eternal and His riches endure forever.  “What is impossible with men, is possible with God.”  Lord help us to not turn from you, but press into You even when it cost us everything.  Help us to do what seems impossible to us, because with You all things are possible.  

Blessings, 

#kent

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Love and Obedience

June 26, 2015

John 14:10, 21, 23-24, 31
If ye love me, keep my commandments.
Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.”
Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.
but the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me. ..

Love and Obedience

The Lord began to show how much love and obedience go hand in hand in this passage from John 14. Jesus is coming to His final hour and the words that He speaks are both weighty and meaningful. He is clearly communicating with us as He speaks to His disciples that truth, faith and love are demonstrated through our obedience to what He has been teaching us through His word.
Our greatest revelation of the Lord comes through obedience. That is when we develop sensitivity to the Holy Spirit so that we hear His voice. The more responsive and obedient we are to that voice the more clearly we discern and know it. The Holy Spirit is like our conscience in some ways. Often we have a feeling or a knowing when something isn’t right or when we are doing something wrong. We can either heed that knowing or we can ignore it, rationalize it, justify it or just disobey it. Eventually it becomes less and less as we desensitize ourselves to it. We do the same thing with the Holy Spirit within us. That is why we don’t hear the Lord the way we need and should be hearing Him. So often we have shut Him out rather than do things His way. Jesus is saying our love for Him and the Father should sensitize us to the Holy Spirit. We should be so aware of His presence and responsive to His voice and dealings in our lives. This is what our love for Him should produce in us. It is a love for God’s will and His way rather than our own mind and our own will. Just as the Father was manifested through the Son, because of the complete uncompromising obedience to all that the Father commanded Him, so Christ will be more fully manifested in us the more we walk in complete obedience and submission to His commandments to us. The commandments, the teachings or the Word of God is God’s mind for us. It is His direction, instruction, admonishment and teaching so that we might be fully equipped and come into the maturity of who He is.
If we want to see more of God in our lives, then we need to love Him the way He has instructed that we love Him, through obedience to His Word. When we truly love God through our complete obedience and surrender to Him, we will become aware of His personal leading and direction in every aspect of our lives. To know Him is to love Him and to love Him is to obey Him. Jesus promises in John 14:21 that if we really love Him through our obedience then we are loved of the Father and Jesus says, “I too will love him and show myself to him.”
This is a key point to us in this hour that we become less focused on what our will and wants are and begin to focus on the will and purpose of the Lord for us at this time. We will find the key to that revelation in our obedience to Him. We must love Him as we never have before and with that love comes the complete surrender of our hearts and wills to His will. His commands are not burdensome, but they are life giving. There are times when God stretches us way out of our comfort zone, but if we are willing to obey and trust Him the reward can be tremendous. We will see, know and demonstrate God in ways that we didn’t even know were possible for us. Let us commit to love Him completely and fully through our obedience to His Spirit and His Word. In this place we will come to truly know Him.

Blessings,
#kent

More than all Burnt Offerings and Sacrifices

Mark 12:33-34
“Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

While we no longer literally offer burnt offerings and sacrifices we still do it in type. Many times I might rather love my neighbor, whoever that might be, from a distance rather than up close and personal. Just allow me donate some money for their cause, or pray for them, anything, but don’t make me become personally involved in their lives. Most of us like our own space and some of us like to be around friends and family, but even that has its limitations. How much time do I have for my neighbor, those people that I encounter in my daily life, business or work? Many times we might think to ourselves, “You know, I have enough problems of my own, I don’t need to get involved with someone else’s.” If we love ourselves enough to care about our problems, our needs, our wants, desires and goals in life, then aren’t we mandated to care about the similar needs of others as well?
Most of us would agree that in a world where every time you turn around someone wants to sell you something or ask you to contribute something we begin to become rather cold and callused. We build these walls to try and keep these people out. It is true, we can’t be everything to everybody and we do only have so many resources, still, are we loving our neighbor as ourselves? All of the things that I do for me, am I willing to do them for someone else? Personally, I am not a real people person and the majority of the time I am quite content and comfortable to be by myself, doing my own thing, but can I really love my neighbor as myself from that position. Loving others is always stretching us. It causes us to move out of our comfort zone. It causes us to come out of the place of just making the token efforts of the burnt offerings and sacrifices and requires me to get involved. Jesus was involved with those around him and not just with the upper crust, the easy to get along with, the likeable or the ones that could benefit Him. He was relating to humanity at all levels, classes, sexes and races. He would relate with children and adults alike, to the whole and the broken, rich and the poor and to the sinner and the righteous. Jesus was not a respecter of persons and He was sensitive to the heart cry of people. There are a lot of people out there that just want to take advantage and use others. This tends to make us wary and cynical, but the Lord wants us to tune into the heart cry of others. Listen, by the Spirit to the real need in people. It often isn’t what we see being portrayed on the outside or in their actions. We need a spirit of sensitivity, not to be duped by everyone that comes along, but to see into the heart need of others.
As the ambassadors and representatives of Christ in this earth we are the channels of God’s blessing, healing, restoration and reconciliation. If we don’t take the time and make the time for the needs of others, then who will. If I want someone to love me, be sensitive to my needs and to just care then that is the love I need to be extending to others in whatever capacity I have to give it. It isn’t the religious gestures that I make and the token giving that the Lord is looking for. He is looking for my heart to be one with His heart in me. He desires me to love Him through the way I love others, through a heart that is really caring and concerned for the needs of others. So often we are like the Scribe, the Pharisee, “the Christian”, who walks to the other side of the road when we see our neighbor in need. We don’t want the inconvenience and the investment of our time and resources to get involved. If my neighbor is important to the Lord, then they have to become my priority also. We have to remember that our mission in the earth is not about us, it is about Him through the way that we serve others. Loving God and loving our neighbor are all part of the same pie.
“Lord, give us sensitive hearts and eyes to see into the real needs of others and to make ourselves available and willing to minister to those needs in what ever way we can. Give us your heart to really love others as we would love ourselves, not from a distance, but up close and personal. Help us to truly be the extension of your compassion, love and grace. May the world truly know us by our love and not just by our name and religion. Allow us to be willing to pay the price of the personal sacrifice required in the giving of ourselves and that which cost us personally to love You with all of our hearts; to love our neighbors as ourselves, no matter who they may be.”

Blessings,
#kent

Let’s stretch Ourselves

October 24, 2013

Let’s stretch Ourselves

Luke 6:27-36
“But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. 30Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31Do to others as you would have them do to you. 32″If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them. 33And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that. 34And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ lend to ‘sinners,’ expecting to be repaid in full. 35But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

Jesus tells us to do some things here that are pretty contrary to a lot of our human nature. I would venture to say, that in all of us, we probably aren’t fully walking in what Jesus is telling us to do in this passage. Let’s arm our selves with these instructions that the Lord has given us and as we go out each day let’s endeavor to stretch ourselves, step out of our comfort zone and the way that we have always done it. Let’s step out of our character and into His. Let’s do something radically kind and generous. Let’s endeavor to be a blessing to all that we meet, especially those that are irregular people in our lives that we struggle to even tolerate, let alone like them. Put on the mind of Christ today as you look out and see your world. See it through His eyes and His love. What would Jesus do? How can I get out of my thinking and into His? Bless someone in a spontaneous and unexpected way. Forgive that person who has offended and hurt you. Refuse to retaliate when others abuse you, treat you wrongly or speak unkindly to you. Return blessing for evil, love for hate and kindness for unkindness.
Let’s dare to be different today. Let’s dare to let the Lord stretch us and use us in new and uncommon ways. That means we have to step out of the character of who we have been and into the character of who Christ is and wants to be within us and through us. Go out and assault your world with random acts of kindness. Take the time to tell others how special they are and what a difference their life makes to you. Edify those around you. Be thankful that you get to go to work and that you have a job. Let everyday be another great day, because Christ is living in you and through you.
Dare to let go of the things that you hold onto so tightly. Rest in the Lord that he is your provision and your supply. As 2 Corinthians 8:15 says, “As it is written, He that [had gathered] much had nothing over; and he that [had gathered] little had no lack.” There are untapped resources within us waiting to be released, as we are willing to stretch into the Lord’s principles and commandments. How many times have we read this passage and others like it, but how much of it is actively working in our lives and everyday behavior. What Jesus speaks here is not often seen in natural behavior. Jesus wants to stretch us out of what we have been that is like everyone else and stretch into what He is. If He has commanded us to do these things then He has provided the resources for us to do it. Are you willing to stretch today?

Blessings,
kent

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