Wisdom from Above

November 14, 2016

James 3:13-18

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. 16For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. 

17But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.

Wisdom from Above

The wisdom of this world does not fit well in God’s economy.  The wisdom of this world is concerned for what benefits self and to how obtain those benefits.  Its fruit is often that of greed, manipulation, control, jealousy, covetousness and selfish ambition.  It is most often not really concerned with the needs of others unless that somehow benefits the bottom line.  Those who obstruct its path are viewed as the enemy, and are simply its stepping stones to greater power and control.  James teaches us this wisdom doesn’t come from heaven, but is earthly, unspiritual and of the devil. 

God has a much higher order of wisdom for His people.  He teaches us that it is first pure.  With it there are no hidden agendas, no selfish ambitions or objectives, because its objectives are blessing, peace, edification and promotion of others rather than self.  It is contrary to the world’s wisdom in that it promotes and exalts others before itself.  It is submissive, not seeking its own way, power or control.  It is not judgmental, but merciful, looking for how it can help those who are stumbling, struggling or failing in their walk.  It never seeks revenge, but rather healing, reconciliation and restoration.  It is not biased by prejudice either for or against, but it judges all things after the love of God, exhibiting His mercy and forgiveness.  It does not excuse evil, but confronts it with light and truth.  When it judges, it judges in righteousness for the good and not for the evil.  The wisdom from above demonstrates the heart of God toward others.  It is about ending strife and doing what makes for peace and reconciliation. Strife generally comes when we are compelled to promote our agenda of what we think is right and good.  It is the resistance of the will of others.  Jesus, in God’s wisdom, didn’t argue or debate, but in the face of his accusers and tormentors he spoke the truth of God.  The truth brought the judgement and righteous conviction.   We are to stand in the truth even when the lie is exalted all around us.  Wisdom from above is not only seen in how we believe, but in how we live.  When we live and walk in the Spirit, we will produce the fruit of the Spirit and in that is divine wisdom from above. 

Blessings,

#kent

Four Wells (Part 1)

May 7, 2015

Four Wells
(Part 1)
Genesis 26:16-32
Then Abimelech said to Isaac, “Move away from us; you have become too powerful for us.”
17 So Isaac moved away from there and encamped in the Valley of Gerar and settled there. 18 Isaac reopened the wells that had been dug in the time of his father Abraham, which the Philistines had stopped up after Abraham died, and he gave them the same names his father had given them.
19 Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and discovered a well of fresh water there. 20 But the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with Isaac’s herdsmen and said, “The water is ours!” So he named the well Esek, because they disputed with him. 21 Then they dug another well, but they quarreled over that one also; so he named it Sitnah. 22 He moved on from there and dug another well, and no one quarreled over it. He named it Rehoboth, saying, “Now the LORD has given us room and we will flourish in the land.”
23 From there he went up to Beersheba. 24 That night the LORD appeared to him and said, “I am the God of your father Abraham. Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bless you and will increase the number of your descendants for the sake of my servant Abraham.”
25 Isaac built an altar there and called on the name of the LORD. There he pitched his tent, and there his servants dug a well.
26 Meanwhile, Abimelech had come to him from Gerar, with Ahuzzath his personal adviser and Phicol the commander of his forces. 27 Isaac asked them, “Why have you come to me, since you were hostile to me and sent me away?”
28 They answered, “We saw clearly that the LORD was with you; so we said, ‘There ought to be a sworn agreement between us’-between us and you. Let us make a treaty with you 29 that you will do us no harm, just as we did not molest you but always treated you well and sent you away in peace. And now you are blessed by the LORD.”
30 Isaac then made a feast for them, and they ate and drank. 31 Early the next morning the men swore an oath to each other. Then Isaac sent them on their way, and they left him in peace.
32 That day Isaac’s servants came and told him about the well they had dug. They said, “We’ve found water!” 33 He called it Shibah, and to this day the name of the town has been Beersheba.

The Bible takes the time to relate to us this story about Isaac and Abimelech the King of Gerar along with the accounts of how Isaac dug wells where his Father Abraham had done the same in the past. It is interesting that we find that these wells had been filled in and covered up by the people of the land. We know that water is the commodity that is absolutely necessary to sustain people and livestock. In the Word of God we find the symbolism of water being like the Spirit of God. In our spiritual lives, without God’s Spirit we would perish. Jesus used the water in John 4 when speaking with the Samaritan woman to relate to her the truth of living water. Jesus related Himself as being that source of living water. What we see here is that where God’s people are there is blessing and there is water. Abraham had dug wells and found water, but after Abraham died, what happened, the people of the land covered them up or they became filled back in. Truth and life ceased to flow.
What we could see here is that when people are walking with God in obedience and relationship they bring life wherever they dwell. Blessing and the favor of God will rest upon them. People around us often want the blessing of God upon their life, but without the walk of obedience and relationship so the wells become polluted and covered with the earth and sin of humanity. They become filled in because sin makes a separation. It takes an Isaac or in our case Christ to redig those wells and bring us back into relationship with the water of life
In this account of Isaac we read of Him being asked to leave the land because He has become so influential, powerful and rich that he actually is greater than the people in land in which he dwells. As he honors the request of Abimelech and starts to travel away from there, he obviously has what might the equivalent of a small city moving with him, along with a great amount of livestock. He needs water, so he redigs these wells that were once dug by his father. What we see is that the people of the land are jealous and envious of Isaac, because He carries with him the same blessing as his father. These people of the land then figure that this well is on their land so the water belongs to them and not Isaac even though Isaac did all of the labor and uncovered them. We find the inhabitants of the land coming and contending for the water. This happens twice and we see Isaac naming these wells Strife and Contention.
Have you ever labored and through the blessing of the Lord developed something, just to turn around and have someone come in and want to take it away from you. You could fight for it and maybe even win. After all, you have a force more powerful than those do who are in the land. What was the principal Jesus gave? “If they take your cloak give them you coat also”. So Isaac didn’t go to war with them. He moved on and dug another well. Just as the herdsmen of Lot and Abraham strove, Abraham did not exercise his rights and authority, he gave the choice to Lot and he took what was left. What appears good to the eye of the flesh is not always the blessing, in fact, it can turn out to be the curse as it was for Lot. God the Father is the blessing, if we possess Him and He possesses us, then no matter where we go the blessing will follow.
Perhaps we could even think of this passage in context of the Father establishing the principles of the law and life in the old testament being like Abraham first digging these wells in faith. Then what happened? It wasn’t the wells that were bad; it was man through self-efforts of trying to keep the law that filled back in these wells. It was the law made weak by sinful flesh that caused the wells to fail. It is that old principle that man working outside of faith will never produce righteousness and spiritual life will dry up or become covered up by the efforts of the flesh. That is what had happened to these wells. Isaac was a type of Christ coming back through and redigging the wells His Father had already dug. Yet we see the people of Christ’s day receiving the living water and the blessing of Christ like they received Isaac. Many of them were jealous, envious and resentful of Him. He was perceived as a threat to what they felt belonged to them, but what they could obviously not produce in the law and religious works. Thus we can see the symbolism of Strife and Contention, between Jesus and the religious leaders of his day.

Blessings,
#kent

All of our need is met in Jesus

Philippians 4:19
But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

It is interesting to note that this scripture follows Paul commending the Philippians for their faithfulness in communicating and supporting his needs. In Philippians 4:15-18 Paul has just remarked to the Philippians, “Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only. For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity. Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things [which were sent] from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God.” We can see from these passages that the Philippians weren’t just out seeking the blessings of God, their focus and endeavor was to be a blessing. So often we take the promises of God out of context to meet our particular needs or desires. What is as important as the promises are the conditions of the promise and the foundation it is based on. There are some that have the idea that God exist in order just to bless them. It is God’s heart that we be blessed and that our needs are met, but our heart should not be that of seeking the gift, but the Giver. What we find in the economy of the kingdom of God is that in blessing we are blessed, in giving our needs are met. The Lord increases us for the purpose of being a greater blessing, as well as being blessed.
What we must ask ourselves is what is at the core of our heart when we approach God for our needs or wants. Is it covetousness, the strong desire for what we don’t have, or is it the desire to be a blessing? Is our heart just to get or is it to give. Jesus says in Matthew 6:31-34, “Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day [is] the evil thereof.” Jesus is telling us here that it isn’t the natural commodities of this world we need to be focused on, it is the kingdom of God. When we get in the flow of God’s economy we don’t have to worry about the natural, those needs will be met in the course of our living. Certainly we must still work, the Word exhorts “let him who will not work, not eat.” What we fail to see is that even our work can be a spiritual exercise and function of the kingdom. It is a means for providing not only our needs, but also the needs of others, which is a spiritual principle. Ephesians 4:28 says, ” Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with [his] hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.” It is in the meeting of needs that our needs are met.
Paul says in this passage, ‘may God supply all of your need, singular, according to His riches in glory.’ What is your need today? Is it about all of the things in life that we need or is it about knowing that Christ is our greatest need and everything else is worked out as we pursue Him.
May we have the heart of the Father in our giving and being a blessing. In blessing we will find ourselves blessed and all of our need met according to His riches in glory.

Blessings,
#kent

Lust

September 11, 2013

Lust

Psalms 81:12
So I gave them up unto their own hearts’ lust: [and] they walked in their own counsels.

Lust is an area where we all struggle. Many of us automatically associate lust with sexual lust and while that is one arena that it greatly works in, it is by no means that only one. Lust, is much the same as covetousness. It is the strong desire, passion and delight in a desirable thing or object. Typically, what do we have a strong passion and desire for? Usually it is for the things that we can’t have or that we ought not to have. This is what we commonly phrase, “lusting after the flesh”. It is our flesh that is at enmity with God or at war with Him. It is a battle that we fight in our souls, but finds expression through our flesh. Now, lust could have a good connotation, in that “I lust after the Spirit”, or have a strong passion and desire for God. Certainly this is the direction we would want our lust to take us, but more times than not it is taking us in another direction, the way of the flesh.
In our scripture today the context of what is being talked about is when God brought the children of Israel out of Egypt and was leading them through the wilderness. Lust was a condition of their hearts that led them away from God and the higher purposes that He had for them. It continues on after our theme verse to say in Psalms 81:13-16, “Oh that my people had hearkened unto me, [and] Israel had walked in my ways I should soon have subdued their enemies, and turned my hand against their adversaries. The haters of the LORD should have submitted themselves unto him: but their time should have endured for ever. He should have fed them also with the finest of the wheat: and with honey out of the rock should I have satisfied thee.” If we want to be fed with the finest wheat (the bread of Life) and the honey out of the rock (the truth and revelation of Christ), then we have to hearken unto the Spirit and not unto our flesh when the lust of our desires and want to’s conflict with the Spirit within us.
What is the first thing we want to do when our desires or lust conflict with our spirit? Typically we begin to reason, justify and compromise. Let’s put the old mind to work on it, he’ll come up with a way to make it all right. Isn’t that how we generally try and find peace with ourselves, by rationalizing something in our mind? Or we compartmentalize it and justify it by saying to ourselves, “this is okay in this area of our lives, but not okay over here.” We develop different standards depending on whether we are dealing with family, or business, or social engagements, or spiritual activities. The truth is, God has one standard that applies to every area of our lives. Daniel, in the Old Testament, didn’t cease to pray routinely, just because it wasn’t the politically correct thing to do. He was consistent in every area of his life. We must be no different.
What happens when we start shutting the voice and the conviction of the Holy Spirit out and continue on in the way our flesh wants to go? For one thing, we grow hard of hearing and hard of heart. We have a free will and God will let us go our own way, but the more we go our way the more estranged we become with Him and the less clearly we hear His Spirit’s leading and direction.
Temptation is merely the incitement of my passion, desire or lust for something. James, deals with this issue in a very straight forward way when he says in James 1:12 -16, ”
Blessed [is] the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.
Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. Do not err, my beloved brethren.” He lays out the progression of lust from beginning to end and then exhorts us, “don’t fall for it precious saints.”
Again, James deals with lust in James 4:1-5, “From whence [come] wars and fightings among you? [come they] not hence, [even] of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume [it] upon your lusts. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?” It is the lust of our hearts that entices us away from God to pursue our own passions that are in opposition to His will for us; thus we become His enemy rather than his friend. Our desires become our idol and God is saying, “Don’t you know how jealous I am over you?” God is envious and desirous of us, of our hearts, our affections and our faithfulness to Him. We become like the adulterer that forsakes his relationship to pursue another lover. We grieve the Holy Spirit in doing this.
The apostle John gives us this exhortation in 1 John 2:15-17, “Love not the world, neither the things [that are] in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
For all that [is] in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” Peter makes the remark that the corruption that is in the world is the result of lust and the whole reason that God has given us such wonderful and divine promises is to help us escape out of that snare and stronghold that is taking the world to judgement. He says in 1Peter 1:4, “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” God desires that our desire be first for Him. He loves us with a jealous love and desires that we are faithful. He wants to give us a divine nature that has escaped the corruption that lust brings to our hearts and lives. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free so that we would no longer be in bondage to our lust and former desires. We need the Holy Spirit’s power to help us break the strongholds of lust off of our lives. The more our eyes are fixed on Jesus, the more our hearts are set upon Him and the more we are walking after the Spirit, the easier it will become to overcome these areas in our lives. The Holy Spirit will help us, but He will not act against our will. Only we can submit our will to His.

Blessings,
kent

Where my faith leads me, I will follow

1Timothy 6:10-12
10For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. 11But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 12Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

Most of us are aware that faith is paramount and essential to our walk and relationship with God. Without faith we know that it impossible to please God, for it takes faith to believe that He is and is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. We often hear teachings that instruct us that through faith we can obtain all things if we only believe. Perhaps what some of us miss is that faith doesn’t stand alone, it has other key components that work with it if is truly godliness we seek. In our scripture today we see that misdirected faith can lead us to much grief. Here we are instructed not only to pursue faith, but righteousness, godliness, love, endurance and gentleness. We may remember from Galatians 5:22-23 that all of these are attributes and fruit of the Spirit.
Our faith can take us in many directions, but are all of them the will and purpose of God in our lives? How do we know? Faith has a motive. Some of us can listen to teachings on prosperity, health and wealth and all we really hear is God wants to give me all that I want and desire. Yes, God does desire to bless you, but more than that He desires that our hearts are in the right place in the blessing. Our scripture today speaks of the love of money as the root of evil. More than many of us realize our faith can be motivated by covetousness cloaked in religious apparel. If our motivation is wrong then faith won’t lead us where we need to go and we won’t produce the fruit of the Spirit. After speaking to us of the fruit of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit Galatians 5 goes on in verses 24-26 to talk to us about motivation, “And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.”
It is really the love of God in us that should motivate our faith. Galatians 5:6 tells us, “For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availed any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.” Often we wonder why our faith doesn’t seem to work. What is our true motive behind our faith? Love has to be the motivation for our faith to work; otherwise it can’t produce the life and works of God. James 4:3 says, “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume [it] upon your lusts.” What is the underlying motive of our faith today, is it really to please and walk with God or ultimately to better ourselves. Is it the love of God or the love of self that compels us? Faith can work from each one, but they will not lead us down the same road or produce the same results. To follow God you indeed need faith, but you also need the heart and love of God for your faith to operate out of. Then you will walk by the Spirit for the purpose of pleasing and honoring the Lord and not to fulfill the lust of the flesh. When we are truly walking in the unselfish love of God, then we will see our faith be more effectual and accomplishing the will and purpose of God through our lives. Our faith will lead us in the way of righteousness, godliness, love, endurance and gentleness; these, in turn will become the motivating forces in our life and our faith.

Blessings,
kent

The Simple Life

November 28, 2012

The Simple Life

Matthew 6:25-27
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”

Does life with all of its demands overwhelm you? Are you caught up in a flurry of activity just trying to survive till the next day? Often life can become this way. Life has a way of running over us and possessing us instead of us possessing it.
I was reading the scripture in 1 Timothy 6:6-10 that says, “But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” The dream of most of us as human beings is to try and get ahead, to have just a little more and before we know it we are consumed in our pursuit for material gain. What compounds the problem is that the more we have the more we become enslaved to keeping it up, maintaining and repairing all that we possess. All of those things that we wanted for our enjoyment now run our lives. It can be a hard merry-go-round to get off of. In some ways we do want to get off of it and in some ways we don’t. The sad part is that often when we come to the place in life where we have what we want materially we find that other essential parts of our lives are suffering and we may be losing what are the most important things. Often it is at this time in our lives that we find our marriage falling apart or our children are out of control or we lack a true spiritual relationship with the Lord like we used to have.
Sometimes we have to take the time in life to reevaluate our priorities, goals and purpose. I believe this scripture in 1 Timothy 6 is directed at us as Christians. There is nothing evil with money itself; it is what does inside of us through greed and covetousness that can end up devastating our lives. Maybe it is time for some of us to change our focus from our paycheck to what life is really all about, our relationships. Many of us look back at earlier times when we struggled financially, but we were so much happier because at least we had love, the Lord and each other. Somewhere along the way we can loose those precious things that money can’t buy.
Maybe today is the day to begin to simplify our lives, returning more to the basics and just working for the essentials. Our greatest assets are not in our bank account, portfolio or investments; they are in our families, our faith and our relationship with the Lord. Love is the most important thing and money can’t buy you love. Check your compass and correct your course as needed.

Blessings,
kent

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