The Wounded and Broken

September 23, 2015

Deuteronomy 32:39
See now that I, [even] I, [am] he, and [there is] no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither [is there any] that can deliver out of my hand. 
 
 
The Wounded and Broken
 
In the Garden of Eden were two trees, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the tree of life.  Choices were given to man as to which way he would come to know God and walk with Him.  When wrong choices were made, consequences ensued that brought darkness, sin and death into our world and all of creation.  We must know that this came as no surprise to God and that His plan was before the foundation of this world.  Life and death have become the cycles of life that have carried down since the beginning.   In between that cycle of life and death many things touch our lives.  Life can bring much joy and blessing, but it can also bring us much heartache and pain.  Many of us today bear in our lives the marks of pain and suffering.  That can take many forms, mental, physical, psychological and even spiritual.  Pain has many avenues.  Many times it comes as consequences of what we sow knowingly or unknowingly into our lives, bodies and minds.  Sometimes our pain comes from the consequences and actions of others.  Sometimes it comes as part of the fallen world that we live in.  However it comes, we are left to endure.  
Now as unpleasant as pain is, it is not all bad.  It often works in us what no amount of blessings could.  It is much like our enemies, as unpleasant as they are; they can touch areas in our lives that friends never will.  Often we wonder, “God why all of the unpleasantness?  Why all of this pain and suffering?  Why do our enemies persecute us?  God why must I suffer?”  Joseph, in the book of Genesis 50:20 reveals it so well, “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; [but] God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as [it is] this day, to save much people alive.”  We have an enemy of our soul that perpetrates evil upon us, but what he has thought for evil, God has meant for good. How can this be good?
Romans 8:18-25 helps us to see into the eternal and far reaching purposes of God. “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. 20For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. 
22We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? 25But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”  The Word says that God is the one that subjected creation to this frustration, but in hope, hope of what?  “That the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage and decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children or the sons of God.”  
Jesus Christ was the prototype and firstfruits of this glorious liberation.  What did He say His purpose was?  It says of Jesus in Luke 4:14-20, “Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. 15He taught in their synagogues, and everyone praised him. 16He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. 17The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: 18″The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, 19to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” 
20Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, 21and he began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.””  The people were murmuring, “Isn’t this the son of Joseph?”  This was a proclamation that Jesus had stepped out of the earthly paradigm of humanity into His divine purpose of eternity.  What was begun in the headship of Jesus, He will complete in and through His body which Ephesians 1:23 declares is, “…the fullness of him that filleth all in all.”  
Pain and suffering can rend our hearts and bodies like few things can.  They are processing tools that bring us into the purposes of God if we catch that revelation.  They are areas we can see God work supernaturally in, both in the areas of healing and deliverance, but also in the areas of tribulation, patience and longsuffering.  Job certainly wanted to be free from his pain that he felt unjustly afflicted with, but it was a process that brought him into a double portion anointing and priesthood that he would have never experienced without it.  David would certainly have not chosen to be fleeing his enemies that sought for years His life, but it was preparation for kingship.  Joseph wouldn’t have chosen captivity, slavery and prison, but it prepared him to rule and reign.  Even of Jesus it says in Hebrews 5:7-9, “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. 8Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered 9and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him 10and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.”  We, like our Savior have been called to a royal priest hood.  We also will pass through our seasons of suffering.  When we pass through these valleys, for however long we must endure them, let them have their perfect work in us.  Allow them not to discourage you, but to encourage you that, “whom the Lord loves He chastens.”  He doesn’t discipline bastards or illegitimate ones, he disciplines His sons that in due time it might work the peaceable fruits of righteousness (Hebrews 12).   God is preparing us for greatness and what the evil one has meant for evil, God has meant for good. 
 
Blessings,
#kent
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A Series of Right Decisions

Proverbs 3:1-12
1 My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, 2 for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity. 3 Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. 4 Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. 5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. 7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil. 8 This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones. 9Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; 10 then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine. 11 My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline
and do not resent his rebuke, 12 because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.

The essence and sum of our lives can be measured and is made up of a series of decisions. There will be things in our lives that we have no control over other than how we respond to them and what we do with them. When we look back over our lives and to the point that we presently live, we can see that our lives are the result of a good number of smaller decisions and choices. Some of those have had more impact on our lives than others but even the little decisions have contributed to the larger whole. When we understand that each day is made up of a series of decision that can impact and guide the direction of our lives, we then understand the importance of making right decisions.
Proverbs 3 speaks to us out of the wisdom of a Father to his son. As we read this we insert ourselves into the object of this conversation. The Father is reminding the son that to live a prosperous and healthy life there are certain things you need to maintain, remember and exercise in your decision making. The foremost is that you keep the teachings and the commands of God’s Word in your heart. The continual meditation upon the Word of God will serve to keep your life focused and continually aware of what your life is about.
The way that we exercise the Word that we store up in our hearts is through love and faithfulness. These are the keys that allow us to partake of the treasures of God’s wisdom and grace and to put them into the vocabulary of our daily lives and actions. Love, trust and obedience, these are the essentials that need to be with us in every decision making process. When we have them and exercise them, and then they will assure a right motive to the decisions that we do make.
Even with these essentials we realize that we lack the insight, understanding and wisdom to really know what is best for our lives and if the decision we are making may be the best choice we could have made.
Again, the Lord reminds us to trust Him with all our whole heart and to lean not upon our own understanding. God knows so much more about our lives and the impact of our decisions than we do. It only makes sense to really trust Him to guide us and lead us. He says He will make our paths straight. Romans 8: 28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” These are those ones that are practicing Proverbs 3. If we acknowledge Him, trust Him and love Him with all of our heart, then He is able to take even the bad things in our life and work them for our good. There are going to be times in our life we won’t be able to grasp the whys and wherefores of how God operates and the reason He has allowed things to happen as they have. He never told us we had to understand Him, just acknowledge, love and trust Him.
We can never boast in ourselves, in our ability, our prosperity or our wisdom. We do acknowledge that every good and perfect gift comes from above. Sometimes we are tempted in our spiritual or natural successes to be lifted up to think we are something or somebody more than somebody else is. We have to always keep our feet on the ground while we keep our heart in heaven. Spiritual pride is a foolish man’s prize. We are all the products of God’s rich grace and mercy. None of us can boast in ourselves for it is God alone that gives us value and worth. If we fear God and turn away from evil then it will be health to our body and nourishment to our bones.
I heard a minister the other day who was sharing that the temple had five gates. There was a priest stationed over each one of those gates as a watchman to assure that no danger or that nothing unclean entered the gates. He went on to share that these five gate are like our five natural senses and God has set us as a priest to watch over them and insure that nothing harmful or unclean passes through them into the temple which we are. This is much like the principles of Proverbs 3. If we will do our part to love, acknowledge, trust and obey the Lord, He will do His part to direct and order our steps.
As He honors us, we must in turn honor Him with the firstfruits of our increase. We can’t bring the leftovers or the second best. We must honor Him with the firstfruits of our best. He assures us that we won’t lack because of it.
We are His children. He loves us and whom the Lord loves He chastens, disciplines and corrects. We can’t become discouraged when our lot in life is tough. It is not God’s anger and displeasure at work; it is His love. The trials and tribulations in our lives are what shape and mold our character and integrity. They are a part of the process of bringing us into conformity with Father’s nature and character. All that God is working in us is in preparation for a much more glorious life.
Just remember that it is the series of everyday decision that add up to the sum of your life. Allow God to be a part of every one of them.

Blessings,
#kent

Regrets

May 14, 2015

1 John 1: 9
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
Philippians 3:13-14
Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Regrets

Most all us of carry regrets of choices we did or didn’t make.
There isn’t any way we can change the past or from our history take,
the memories and consequences of regrets we carry within.
But forgive ourselves we must, of our past regrets and sins.
Most importantly we learned, so as to never regret again.
God forgets past sins when we repent and ask Him to forgive.
So we now must forgive ourselves and move on to better live.
Kent Stuck

Sometime the hardest people to forgive in life is ourselves. Some of us are still carrying guilt and condemnation from past decisions and choices. They may have been horrendous decisions with devastating consequences, but God still forgives and has forgiven you of that sin, the first time you ask Him. It may be you that is grieving the Holy Spirit by not having the faith to not only believe that God has forgiven you, but that you must also forgive yourself and set yourself free from the guilt and condemnation that you have been carrying.
One thing that isn’t acceptable to God is our unforgiveness, but that doesn’t just apply to others; it also applies to our forgiving ourselves. You can’t change your past, but you can change your future by ‘forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.’ You have a purpose and it isn’t bemoaning your mistakes. Don’t allow your past regrets to define you, but motivate you to be that better person. Who I was may be who I no longer am, but only my life and actions can define the difference. Forgive yourself and move on.

Blessings,
#kent

Two Trees

February 16, 2015

John 6:44-59
“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. 45It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me. 46No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. 47I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life. 48I am the bread of life. 49Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. 50But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. 51I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”
52Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”
53Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. 57Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. 58This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever.” 59He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.

Two Trees

Most all of us are familiar with the story in Genesis of Adam and Eve and how God placed them in a garden. In the midst of that garden were two trees, the tree of Life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God said of all of the trees of the garden you can eat the fruit thereof, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you do you shall surely die. Sure enough, when Adam and Eve yielded to temptation and partook of the fruit of that tree, death entered into the human race and the Pandora’s box of all of it consequences. Before this day it was perfectly acceptable to partake of the tree of life. We have come to know this tree as Christ Jesus who brings us into fellowship, unity and oneness with God. After the fall, the tree of Life was cut off. Adam and Eve were cast out of the garden; a mighty angel was stationed there to prevent their return. They know longer knew the realm of personal fellowship they had once experienced with God. They now lived in the realm of that tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It was not all evil, good did exist there as well, but it was a mixture and was subject to the will of the flesh.
What we actually are hearing Jesus say here in this passage from John 6 is that the tree of Life has been returned to us by the Father to bring us again into a state of fellowship and personal relationship lost through the ages since Adam. Romans 5:18-21 says, “18Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. 19For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous. 20The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, 21so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Once again we have been given access through the tree of Life back into the realm of Spirit and God is Spirit. There, in that place, we can once again walk with Him, talk with Him and find His rest. In that place we have unity and oneness in Christ and are a part of His family experiencing adoption as sons.
Here is a paradox. Just as the partaking of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil caused Adam to die to the spiritual dimension of God and at the same time become alive to the realm of the flesh and soul, we who, now come into Christ and partake of the tree of Life, must also die. This death is now to tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the flesh and the soul, so that we can become alive in the Spirit and experience the eternal life of Christ. The apostle Paul gives us the key to this revelation in Romans 5: 1-14, “1What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. 5If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. 6For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— 7because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. 8Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.
11In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. 14For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.”
Where we struggle is that even though we become identified with Christ in His death and resurrection in our spirits there is a process of possessing and conquering the land of our soul and body. Just as God gave the Promised Land to the Israelites, they had to go in and conquer the land. Possessing the promise and disposing the former inhabitants in our case of the un-renewed mind, will and emotion; along with the giants of our imaginations and strongholds. Their victory was not in their strength, but it was in the reliance and obedience to the One who had promised. It is our identification with Christ, who He is and what He is, that is our victory within our own mortal being. When we take our eyes and identification off of Him then we find ourselves in the realm of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Which tree are you going to continue to eat from?

Blessings,
#kent

A Purpose Driven Life

December 3, 2014

A Purpose Driven Life

Romans 8:28
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Haven’t all of us that have embraced Christ by faith and entered into a relationship with Him, been called according to His purpose. Often we confuse our purpose with His purpose and they are not always the same. Many of us have our own agendas, our own aspirations and goals, but they may not necessarily be in line with God’s purpose for your life. The Lord has given us a will and if we are bent on our ways rather than pursuing what He has for our lives, we can make that choice.
Jesus says, “if you love me, you will keep my commandments.” 1 Corinthians 16:19-20 tells us, “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost [which is] in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” If we truly love the Lord then we need to acknowledge that we are His and no longer our own. 2 Timothy 1:9 speaks of what God’s purpose is, “Who hath saved us, and called [us] with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” Most of us, quite honestly, tend to compartmentalize our lives into spiritual and non-spiritual, what is God’s and what is ours. The Lord’s intent is that all that we are is spiritual and belongs to Him, body, soul and spirit. What are we missing in the purpose and will of God for our lives because we are caught up in our own ways. How much of our lives do we filter through the Holy Spirit, seeking His direction and council and asking that His will and purpose are accomplished in all that we do and the decisions that we make? Do we instead, forge headlong into the desires and purposes of our own heart and expect God to be a part of and bless what we have purposed to do? 2 Corinthians 13:5 tells us, “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?”
We can be really thankful that our God is so loving, patient and kind; and that He endeavors to deal with our hearts and speak to us in our times of self-discovery. We can listen to the gentle dealings of the Lord or we can ignore Him and continue on until one day we must come to terms and the consequences of our own actions.
Father has a purpose and calling for each one of our lives. Are we embracing and living fully in it? If we truly love Him and have been called out of the world by Him, then we have the assurance that all that the Lord is working in our lives is for the good. At times it may not seem good, but that is where we have to trust the heart of God and His promises concerning our lives.
Are we living in God’s purpose today? Are we living the destiny He has called us too? Those things can only be discovered and found out in Him through a yielded spirit and a contrite heart. The Lord will lead and direct our lives if we allow Him to do so.
Romans 12:1-2 exhorts us in this purpose, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Are we living God’s purpose driven life for us today?

Blessings,
#kent

Temptation

October 30, 2014

Mark 26:21
Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed [is] willing, but the flesh [is] weak.

Temptation

Temptation seems to always want to come and visit us in our weakest moments, entice us with its sweetest fruit and numb us to the consequences of its poison. Lust and desire are strong aphrodisiacs no matter what level or place in life they come to us. They always seek to turn our heads from who we are in Christ to who we were. In Genesis 3 we see the beguiler as he comes to rationalize with Eve that what God said wasn’t so and God just didn’t want her to partake of what would make her like Him. God warned Cain in Genesis 6, “… sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.” We all, like Cain and those that have gone before us, are often caught up in our mind, will and emotions where we rationalize and court sin. It so often starts so subtly with the innocent and seemingly harmless things, just like a fish playing with the bait on a hook until before we know it the hook is set and we are being reeled into the depths of our sin that can lead us to strongholds and addictions.
In our passage from Mark 26, Jesus sees this happening even to His own disciples as He cautions them, “watch and pray”. Like them. many of us go through a time of spiritual victory and strength where we tend to let down our guard and think we are no longer vulnerable to the temptations of sin. What Jesus speaks to His disciples, He speaks to us. “Be vigilant, watchful and mindful of the cunning strategies of the enemy. Your spirit may be strong and willing, but your flesh may not have the resolve that you think that you have in your spirit. Given opportunity, it will want to indulge itself in those areas where it is weak and vulnerable.
Our spirit, in unity with God’s spirit is the strength we have to reign in the flesh with its desires. While we no longer have that appetite for sin, we all fall prey to it at various time and in various ways. What we all now have confidence in, is that even if we make a mistake, we no longer live in the realm of the law of sin and death, but in the realm of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. We know that in Christ we have an advocate with the Father who ever lives to make intercession for us and if we fail 1 John 1:5-8 reminds us of the message we have from Christ. “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. 7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
8If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.”
God warns us even about the company we keep. Where our hearts are our actions will follow. 2 Corinthians 6:14 -18 exhorts us, ” Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 16What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.
17″Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing,
and I will receive you.”
18″I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”
While we minister the love and righteousness of God to the world, it is no longer the place of our fellowship or abiding. We are a people separated out of the world and unto Him, so our affections are set on things above and no longer of things beneath. It is as we maintain the identity of not who we were, but who we have now come into that we live in Christ through the power of His Word and Life. We are no longer conformed to this world as Romans 12 tells us, but we are transformed through the renewing of our minds in Christ Jesus.
Remember that the war that you are in, is not one of flesh and blood. The enemy is as 1 Peter 5:8 warns us, ” Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” He is looking for our places of weakness and vulnerability. And Jesus says, the mission statement of the devil is “to kill, steal and destroy.” He will always entice you through logic and lust into sin and then condemn you for it. Ephesians 6:10-18 reminds us that we are in a war and not a casual relationship with this world and the spirits that seek to rule it. “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.”
We must not only be mindful of ourselves, but pray and watch out for one another. The enemy is always trying to catch us on our blindside and your brother may be able to see what you have been blinded too. Let us watch one another’s back in love, not in judgement or condemnation. Together we stand as one man to defeat our foe and overcome temptation. We need to watch and pray, not only for ourselves, but for one another. Together we must stand helping, ministering and exhorting one another to be strong, resisting the devil so that he will flee from us. The serpent only feeds on dust. Your dust has been redeemed through the cross so that you walk no longer in the former dust and lust of your flesh, but live out of the life of the Spirit of Christ in you. In that place he has nothing to feed upon.

Blessings,
#kent

Making Healthy Choices

October 22, 2014

Making Healthy Choices

Joshua 24:15
And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that [were] on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

Life is made up of a series of choices we make everyday. Much like what we choose to eat, our lives eventually begin to show forth physically the fruit of what we have eaten or not eaten. One or two good choices or bad choices do not determine our fate, it is the overall direction that we go with a pattern of decision making that really begins to define who we are outwardly and who we are inwardly.
The best and the healthiest choice any of us made was when we asked Christ to come into our hearts and be our Lord and Savior. That should have began us down a path and a pattern of making much more healthy choices for ourselves and those for whom we are responsible. Why do we read God’s Word, why do we pray, why do we listen to sermons and the messages that come out of those who speak God’s Word to the Church? Isn’t it because we want the mind of Christ to make healthy choices and right decisions? We know that over time these choices will define our life, who we are and what we are with regards to the Kingdom of God.
Let’s be honest, most of us like junk food and fast food. I’m certainly no exception there. We are educated enough to know that a steady diet of this kind of food will result in an unhealthy end. Some of us are already experiencing the effects of those types of choices. And we can’t turn around and sue God because He made them available to us. All of our choices have consequences and we bear the responsibility for those choices. They can be good or bad depending on what they produce. One of the greatest gifts or curses God gave to man was the right and ability to make their own choices.
Joshua is saying in our verse today to the children of Israel, you all have to make a choice about who you want to serve in life. If it doesn’t seem good to you to really serve the Lord, then you can choose other gods, whether that be another religion or the god of self, or some other god, “but as for me and my house (those I’m responsible for) we will serve the Lord.” Joshua had made his choice long before he ever spoke these words and his life was the result of the choices he had made. We all have to make our own choices in life and consequently we all have to answer for them rather in this life or that which is come.
Are you making healthy choices spiritually today? Are Christ, His Word, His Truth, His Life and His Ways what you are feeding on daily? I believe God has given us this life to enjoy His blessings and the goodness around us, but if we have chosen Him and continue to choose Him, then all of our other choices will be centered in His will and purpose for us and not our own. “For in Him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28).” May the Lord help each of us daily to make healthy choices in every arena of life so that our lives may be blessed and we may be partakers of all the goodness He has for us.

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

Beware the Seductress of Your Soul

Proverbs 7:1-5
1MY SON, keep my words; lay up within you my commandments [for use when needed] and treasure them. 2Keep my commandments and live, and keep my law and teaching as the apple (the pupil) of your eye. 3Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart. 4Say to skillful and godly Wisdom, You are my sister, and regard understanding or insight as your intimate friend– 5That they may keep you from the loose woman, from the adventuress who flatters with and makes smooth her words.

Proverbs 7 is an exhortation and an illustration of what can happen to any one of us, at anytime as we travel through life. God has called us to be fishers of men to bring the gospel and the good news of the kingdom to our world and sphere of influence. We are the lights and the instruments of God’s choosing and using to draw men to Him. Even as men are persuaded to righteousness and faith in Christ by the drawing of the Holy Spirit unto life, there is an antithesis that works unto death. Satan is a fisherman also, continually casting the lure and bait that appeals to our base appetites. It is rare that one is so foolish to walk into an obvious trap, so what we get caught up in usually starts out very unthreatening and alluring. We’ve no doubt all been there at one time or another and to one degree or another. Some of us, by the grace of God, have been delivered in areas of our life where the enemy was able to bring great devastation and damage because he was able to get his hook into us and we couldn’t seem to get loose. Some of us may well still be experiencing the prison of this entrapment are still battling issues in our lives from wrong choices that we made or others that were close to us have made. How many of us have felt the effects in our lives from alcohol, drug, sexual addictions, fraud, lying, cheating, stealing and just plain selfishness? Sin has touched all of us directly and indirectly.
Listen to how the seductress and loose woman of Proverbs 7 seduces and ensnares her prey. The young man is vulnerable because he is simple, empty-headed and empty-hearted.
“And behold, there met him a woman, dressed as a harlot and sly and cunning of heart. 11She is turbulent and willful; her feet stay not in her house; 12Now in the streets, now in the marketplaces, she sets her ambush at every corner. 13So she caught him and kissed him and with impudent face she said to him, 14Sacrifices of peace offerings were due from me; this day I paid my vows. 15So I came forth to meet you [that you might share with me the feast from my offering]; diligently I sought your face, and I have found you. 16I have spread my couch with rugs and cushions of tapestry, with striped sheets of fine linen of Egypt. 17I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. 18Come, let us take our fill of love until morning; let us console and delight ourselves with love. 19For the man is not at home; he is gone on a long journey; 20He has taken a bag of money with him and will come home at the day appointed [at the full moon]. 21With much justifying and enticing argument she persuades him, with the allurements of her lips she leads him [to overcome his conscience and his fears] and forces him along.” This woman is a chameleon and will take on the guise of whatever is necessary to capture your heart. She is a savage beast in beautiful array. Her one intent is to draw you into temptation that she may destroy your faith and devour you. Her ways are death and lead to hell. She has entered the backdoor of your soul in order to drive her dagger into your spirit. In verses 22-27 we see his end, “Suddenly he [yields and] follows her reluctantly like an ox moving to the slaughter, like one in fetters going to the correction [to be given] to a fool or like a dog enticed by food to the muzzle 23Till a dart [of passion] pierces and inflames his vitals; then like a bird fluttering straight into the net [he hastens], not knowing that it will cost him his life. 24Listen to me now therefore, O you sons, and be attentive to the words of my mouth. 25Let not your heart incline toward her ways, do not stray into her paths. 26For she has cast down many wounded; indeed, all her slain are a mighty host 27Her house is the way to Sheol (Hades, the place of the dead), going down to the chambers of death.”
Our exhortation is to avoid her and not to even flirt with her, for her ways are death. The way we avoid her is by not being simple minded, but Christ minded. We set our mind on things above. We fill our hearts with word of God and His wisdom and discernment. We do not allow ourselves to become ignorant or naïve concerning the ways of the world and the enticements that it holds. We keep our hearts humble and trembling before the Lord, for we know that ‘pride preceedth a fall’. In all humility we seek to warn others lest they also become the prey of satan and their faith is shipwrecked. Hold fast to the Word of Life. It is the anchor and preserver of your soul.

Blessings,
#kent

Our Steps are Ordered of the Lord

Acts 26:16

But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee.


Psalm 37:23 says, “The steps of a [good] man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.”  People of God, we have feet that are prone to wander.  We know and love God, but our hearts are still deceitfully wicked.  Our spirits are fully redeemed and delight in God after the inward man, but there is a soulish body of sin, that doesn’t want to let go.  It has been sentenced to death through the cross, but it doesn’t want to die.  It is an avenue of temptation that satan uses to lead astray and cause us to wander.  We can’t change ourselves, but we must maintain a vigilance to keep ourselves in relationship and in a place of sitting daily at the feet of Jesus.  We have to keep our focus on the kingdom of heaven and what our life’s purpose is about.  So easily our eyes and heart can turn away and something other than Christ catches our heart.   We often wonder why we experience so little of the Lord’s presence.  Perhaps it is because our time in seeking it and pursuing Him is so limited.  Here is what the Lord spoke through Jeremiah the prophet to Israel, which is for our example.  Jeremiah 14:10 says, “This is what the LORD says about this people:  “They greatly love to wander; they do not restrain their feet. So the LORD does not accept them; he will now remember their wickedness and punish them for their sins.” Does that sound like us?  

I don’t speak out of condemnation.  I speak out of conviction.  I speak out of shame and disappointment with myself at how often and how many ways I must grieve the precious Holy Spirit. God knows our form and He knows our weakness, but that cannot become our excuse, because it is no longer who we are.  Everyday we must lay hold of the life of Christ and when I miss Him, He will forgive me if I repent, but it must become the exception and not the rule.  Our steps are ordered of the Lord.  We must find and stay upon that path.  How subtly we can be steered out of it.  Usually it is just one little step at a time until we suddenly find ourselves in the deep waters of sin and wonder how we got there.  Many times we may find the discipline of the Lord upon our lives or even the course of the natural consequences of our sin.  God loves us.  His desire and purpose is always to draws us back into Him and into His heart.  Hebrews 12:11-15 of the amplified version exhorts us like this, “For the time being no discipline brings joy, but seems grievous and painful; but afterwards it yields a peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it [a harvest of fruit which consists in righteousness–in conformity to God’s will in purpose, thought, and action, resulting in right living and right standing with God]. 

12So then, brace up and reinvigorate and set right your slackened and weakened and drooping hands and strengthen your feeble and palsied and tottering knees, 

13And cut through and make firm and plain and smooth, straight paths for your feet [yes, make them safe and upright and happy paths that go in the right direction], so that the lame and halting [limbs] may not be put out of joint, but rather may be cured. 

14Strive to live in peace with everybody and pursue that consecration and holiness without which no one will [ever] see the Lord. 

15Exercise foresight and be on the watch to look [after one another], to see that no one falls back from and fails to secure God’s grace (His unmerited favor and spiritual blessing), in order that no root of resentment (rancor, bitterness, or hatred) shoots forth and causes trouble and bitter torment, and the many become contaminated and defiled by it—” Our Father is for us, not against us.  Even in our weakness and failing He so greatly loves us.  Praise His Name, He loves us enough to correct and discipline us, even though it is often painful, to bring us back to Him.  

If we are walking out of His ways today, come back to Him.  Even this word you are reading now is God’s invitation and cry to come back to Him.  He desires that none of us “falls back and fails to secure God’s grace.”  Luke 1:79 says of Jesus that He came, “To give light to them that sit in darkness and [in] the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”  Who is ordering our steps today?  What are our hearts following after and our feet carrying us into?  The steps of a righteous man are ordered of the Lord.  Let us delight ourselves in His ways and follow wholly after Him.  “God help us to loose ourselves and renounce the strongholds of sin that want and have taken hold upon our lives.   We are marching to Zion and we must not be turned out of the way.  We behold the throne of God and the Lamb of God that sits in that throne with Him and in Him.  “We must fix our eyes and our hearts upon You, oh Lord.  Order our steps, oh God, and direct our paths in righteousness for Your Name’s sake.”

 

Blessings, 

kent

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