Kindness and Severity of God

September 10, 2014

Jeremiah 4:8
So put on sackcloth, lament and wail, for the fierce anger of the LORD has not turned away from us.
Isaiah 60:5
Then you will look and be radiant, your heart will throb and swell with joy; the wealth on the seas will be brought to you, to you the riches of the nations will come.
Kindness and Severity of God

Today’s passages come from two totally different aspects that represent both the kindness and the severity of God. Even in the severity of God, He is working to bring all things to His purposed end. He is able to deal with His people in whatever means are necessary to accomplish that purpose. Our faith and obedience to Him or the lack of it often determine our choice in this process.
In Romans 11:13-24 the apostle Paul teaches this, “13I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I make much of my ministry 14in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them. 15For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? 16If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches.
17If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, 18do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. 19You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.” 20Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. 21For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.
22Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. 23And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. 24After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!
We see then that the severity of God has worked to our salvation and our being grafted into the tree of God’s family and people, but it will also work to the ultimate reconciliation and restoration of natural Israel. Then we two branches will become one spiritual Israel unto His glory. Even within our lives now we see both the kindness and the severity of God. We love His blessing, but He also gives of His correction because Hebrews 12:4-12 reminds us, “In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, 6because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.” 7Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? 8If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. 9Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! 10Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. 11No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
12Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13″Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.
Within the severity is contained the same love as in His kindness. We often reap what we sow and bring upon ourselves the need for His severity, but even in that severity it is to lead us to repentance and turn us back to Him. God’s severity is not His first course of action and with great longsuffering He often forbears our sin and rebellions. Romans 2:4 speaks of how God desires to deal with us, “Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance? We are most often the ones that forsake our own mercy and provoke the severity of God.
This doesn’t mean that our sin or failure brings on all of the trials that we go through. Often it is these trials and tribulations that are most likely to cause us to keep our eyes and attention fixed upon Him. God’s sternness is to those who fall away, but His kindness is to you provided that you continue in His kindness.

Blessings,
#kent

If a Tree has Leaves, does it have Fruit?

Matthew 21:18-19
18Early in the morning, as he was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. 19Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” Immediately the tree withered.

A fruit tree is expected to produce fruit after its kind. A Christian is expected to produce fruit after their kind.
The fig tree in this story is said to represent Israel. The person coming from the outside might enter a city like Jerusalem and see it flourishing. They could go to the temple and see it full of activity and religious men walking about it and throughout the city. Jesus teaches us here that just because a tree has leaves and looks healthy doesn’t mean that it is fruitful. If it is a fruit tree that appears healthy and yet produces no fruit, it is failing in its purpose in life. Just like Israel, if we appear to be the people of God, have all of the churches and religious services, but do not bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit, then we too are barren. We are missing our purpose. Our purpose is to not bear healthy looking leaves, but to produce fruit in the way God has purposed us to do. No amount of leaves or trappings can hide that.
Adam and Eve used leaves to hide their nakedness and we often do the same; hiding the shame of a life that is void of fruitfulness, but full of activity. Jesus says in John 15:1-8, “”I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes] so that it will be even more fruitful. 3You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
5″I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. 8This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” We are taught here that Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. He doesn’t tell us that our function is to produce leaves, but to produce fruit. Leaves are a support and facilitator for the fruit, but they can never take the place of the fruit; they are like faith and works, they go together.
Jesus gave us many examples where He shows us that we have responsibility and accountability for His life in us. If we take and receive the life of Christ in us, then live our lives only for ourselves we are a fruitless tree or branch. We are to bear fruit so that others might be partakers of the life of Christ and be nourished through what He is imparted to us.
The fruit of the Spirit spoken of in Galatians 5:22-23 are, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. This fruit operating in our lives will allow us to be fruitful in the gifts and abilities that God has given each of us for our ministry and calling.
One day the Lord will examine our tree or our branch. We have responsibility for what it is bearing. If we are truly abiding in the vine then we will be producing the fruit and not just the leaves. It is important that we judge ourselves that we be not judged. How fruitful is our tree?

Blessings,
#kent

Hinderances

April 11, 2014

Galatians 5:7
Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?

Hinderances

This word hinder in the Greek is “egkoptō” which literally means ” to cut into, to impede one’s course by cutting off his way.” The question the Lord is asking us today is what is hindering us? What is interrupting our road to walking in His will and purpose?
There are many things that can come into interrupt and cut us off from walking and fulfilling the purpose and destiny that we are called too. Let’s just touch on a few and this by no means exhaustive so there are many others that could be added to the list. Scripturally we will address a few of them.
In Luke 11:52 Jesus addresses a major hindrance, ” Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered.” One of the greatest hindrances we have in the Church today is religious knowledge and true spiritual ignorance. Our way of thinking is so often skewed, even among grace believing churches, to still hinder our identity of who we are in Christ. We are still looking and seeking to change the man of sin which we were, rather than walking in the identity of the new creation man which we are and are maturing into. It is our paradigm and way of thinking that is one of the major obstacles. Even John the Baptist wanted to hinder Jesus from being baptized because he didn’t consider himself worthy. Wrong thinking. If Jesus hadn’t considered him worthy He wouldn’t come to him to baptized. Peter wanted to hinder Jesus from the cross. Jesus rebuked satan working through him, because it was a hindrance to His mission and purpose. Satan will always try and cut you off from your purpose and destiny, because his purpose to “kill, steal and destroy.”
What hindrances are you encountering today in your spiritual walk? One area might be in your marriage. Peter addresses this one in 1 Peter 3:7, ” Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with [them] according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.” “Them” here being your spouse and ladies take this to heart as well. How is satan best able to get to us more than through the ones we live with. If he can cause contention, frustration, resentment, bitterness, unforgiveness and irritation we fall into his trap of contending with the very one that God has placed into our lives that we are intended to be the heirs of salvation with. This is our partner not our enemy. The enemy is the one you are allowing to work through you as you give place to your flesh and emotion rather than to the spirit and the love of God. Yes, we are going to have our differences, we all do. The art of a magician is to distract you so that he may deceive you into thinking something that isn’t true. That is the craftiness and whiles of the devil. Discern your true enemy and unite your heart in love to defeat your common foe who is out to destroy you, your marriage and interrupt you communion and relationship with Christ. Unite yourselves in the spirit of Christ and reconcile yourselves through His love that your prayer and communion with the Father is not hindered. This speaks to men primarily because we must realize that women, as general rule, are more emotional and a man should be aware of what the influences in the home environment are and deal with them by the Spirit.
The final one we will address today are the hindrance that satan places before us. 1 Thessalonians 2:18, “Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us.” Satan will always try to cause interruptions in you fulfilling your obedience to your destiny and calling. Here is where we must come into knowing our authority as a believer standing in the full armor of God, praying and making intercession, but also specifically declaring and taking authority through Word and the authority of the name of Jesus. There will be spiritual conflicts. When those hindrances come and in whatever form they may come, know who you are in Christ. Walk in the power and authority of the Spirit. Know that even though you may not immediately see things happening in the natural realm that doesn’t mean things aren’t taking place first in the dynamics of the spiritual realm. Hold fast your faith and confidence and do as Hebrews 12:1-3 commands us, ” Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

Blessings,
#kent

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