Cistern or Septic

June 10, 2015

Cistern or Septic

James 3:7-12
All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, 8but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
9With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. 11Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

Jesus makes this statement Luke 6:45, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.” The tongue and the speech of a person are the reflection of the aquifer of a man’s soul. Many things touch us as we go through life and how we process and the attitude with which we handle them can make all the difference in the world in how they affect our life and who and what we are. Most of us, at one time or another, will experience hurts, disappointments and offenses at the hands of another individual. It can be someone who might have been a friend or it may be from our closest and most trusted loved one or relative. Offenses, hurts, wounding can come from many directions, but no matter where they come from, it is how we deal with them that becomes important.
When water falls upon the earth it percolates down through the ground into voids, pockets and underground reservoirs. Many of us have had or at least drank from wells supplied by underground water. What is it that makes that water either pure to drink or in some cases septic and contaminated? Usually it is the process of filtration as it goes through the ground and works its way down into the reservoir. We have a filtration process that we have to take the events of our lives through. What we find in the Word is that if we process our lives with an attitude of the world or if we allow offenses or hurts that may be very real, to be processed the wrong way it can allow our inward cistern of life to become polluted and defiled. It will not only defile us, but it will make our speech and attitudes septic, which can, in turn, defile others.
The bait of satan is to get us to take offense, after all we are justified in doing so, we are the ones that were wronged. In Mark 11:25-26 Jesus makes the statement, “And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.” You see our soul and our heart can be a cistern of life giving water or it can become a septic tank of bitterness and unforgiveness. What would have happened if the Lord had taken the offense of our sins, disobedience and rejection into His heart and held unforgiveness? If we still had life at all there would be no hope and there would be no avenue of relationship. If the Lord had only dwelled on our offenses and had not offered forgiveness could we have known anything but misery and death? As the Son of God was hanging on the cross, grossly beaten, abused, tortured and now crucified of men, His words were “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” He didn’t hold the offense. He released it and the destructive power it could have contained with unforgiveness.
Maybe some of us today are sensing that our cistern has been polluted and made septic by offenses we have been unwilling to forgive and release. That unforgiveness hinders the forgiveness of our offenses to the Lord. It must be as the Lord’s prayer says,’ forgive us our sins, our debts, our offenses, as we forgive those who have sinned against us, have unpaid debts toward us and who have offended us.’ This process can be a painful one and in a sense it is like turning the other cheek to forgive when everything within us wants to return pain for pain, an eye for eye and a tooth for tooth. We want the offender to hurt and suffer every bit as much, if not more, than we have. We have a mighty God who is our avenger and just judge before which all of us will stand and give account. Allow your heart to be freed of the offenses that you have held so that you may have a clean heart and know God’s wonderful love and forgiveness for you that we could never deserve, yet He freely gives.
Filter out the offenses and the hurts that want to go into your heart and mortally wound your soul. You must filter them with the love and the forgiveness that the Lord has given you. You must extend the grace that He has given at the expense of his mortal life. It is the only way to purify the living waters of your heart so that you might issue forth life and not death.

Blessings,
#kent

Forgiveness is in the Forgiving

Matthew 6:12-15
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Forgiveness is a subject we have talked about before and while we accept the words of Jesus here in theory, how are we at practical application? When someone really wrongs you, hurts, betrays, cheats or deceives you, how quick are we to release forgiveness. Most all of us go through those times in our lives when we have every justification to really hate someone and not forgive them in the natural way of thinking.
Allow me to use myself as an example here that may not be so different from something you have experienced and quite possibly you have experienced worse. Recently I met a lady and did some work for her. She is a professing believer, her dad she has told me, is a preacher and her mom a missionary. She is a businesswoman running several companies. She hires me last minute to do some work for her the same day and then the next day. Each time she keeps me waiting three or four hours before her and her people are ready to go. Both days we work quite late. Now I have asked for a $500 retainer up front which she has her assistant pay me with a check. Making a long story as short as possible she owes me over $1500 dollars for the work I have done for her. While she has made many promises to pay she hasn’t. What is worse is, I have since found out that a number of other people, including other photographers are owed money they haven’t been paid. What is even worse is the check for the $500 came back after about two weeks with insufficient funds. This is about the time I reached the end of my patience, put in a call to lawyers, and let the lady in a stern and blunt way know that I was ready to take action if she didn’t get this resolved. Her promise was to pay me half in cash the next day and then the other half a few days later. Well, again she didn’t follow through. Do I have every right to be angry and sue her? You bet, in the world I do, but what is God’s way? If I pursue a legal course of action and do all that I can to expose her fraudulent behavior, have I really forgiven her? Here is the practical place where our faith and trust in God and obedience to His Word has to override our natural feelings, emotions, anger and lack of forgiveness. Does she deserve for me to forgive her? Did I deserve for Christ to forgive me? If I harbor that unforgiveness who is the one that is damaged most by it, her or me? The Word says if I don’t forgive others, neither can God forgive me. My personal forgiveness from God is dependent upon my forgiving others who have offended and wronged me.
There are areas where some of you have been deeply wounded and hurt, far more than I was. Perhaps, you may feel it is impossible for you to forgive that person or persons. We often have to leave the judgement and the vengeance to God, that is His and not ours. The key to our emotional and spiritual healing in these times begins with us simply confessing and giving it over to the Lord. Our emotions and feelings may not be there yet, but if we can begin to take the step of faith to release those who have offended us, then we have taken a step toward our own emotional healing and recovery.
Matthew 5 is full of principles that are utterly contrary to natural thinking and reasoning. In Matthew 5:43-48 Jesus says, “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust
For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more [than others]? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”
I have shared this today so that in a practical way we all might see that God is wanting us to conform to the higher standard of His Word. These kind of experiences are where the rubber meets the road and we have to live what we say we believe, otherwise how are we any different than those who have offended us?

Blessings,
#kent

No Worries

June 5, 2014

Matthew 6:25-34
“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?
28″And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

No Worries

We have entered into what can be stressful times for many as the unemployment and foreclosure numbers increase with a struggling economy. Even in good times there can always be reasons for worry and concern. It is one thing to have someone say don’t worry about it and another when you’re in the midst of the fire.
I remember when we were first married. The company that I was working for went into bankruptcy and I was laid off of work. Sharon, in particular was stressing over the loss of the job and the Lord gave this scripture out of Matthew 6 to us.
What is Jesus saying to us in this scripture? Is He saying I just need to go through life singing “Que. Sera Sera” whatever will be will be? He is not telling us to have a careless attitude, but again, not focusing upon the circumstances, but upon His promises and His kingdom. Isn’t He telling us that if we are walking and living according to His will and purpose that He will see that our needs are met? We don’t always know what form that will take or even how He will do it, but He does tell us, “Don’t worry”. God is not one of anxiousness, but of rest. Sometimes the hardest thing for us to do is lean back into the arms and love of Jesus and just rest. Sometimes our nature is that I have to be doing something to solve this problem, but it is so often with our efforts and intellect that we seek the answers. God’s ways are often so contrary to our flesh. While the flesh wants to be doing, God is wanting us to be resting. It doesn’t mean that we are not knocking, or seeking, or asking, but rest that God will open the doors that He has for you and don’t be anxious about it.
The apostle Paul speaks a similar word in Philippians 4:6, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Come to the Lord with all of your needs, but come with an attitude of thanksgiving, knowing that your needs are met already in Him. Don’t allow your circumstances to rob your joy. The circumstances will pass, but the Word of God and His promises stand forever. 2 Corinthians 1:20 says, “For all the promises of God in him [are] yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.”
If you are in anxious times, quiet your soul, walk by the Spirit and enter into the rest of God. Just fellowship with Him as He begins to give you new direction or meet the needs that are pressing upon you. He often works in different ways than we might imagine, but then that is what makes Him uniquely God. What can we lose that God is not able to restore in greater measure and abundance? Our position and identity in life is not determined by the job or title or credentials that we hold, it should be determined by who we are in Christ. Standing in the perfect will of God should be the only position that we seek. In that place we can not fail.

Blessings,
#kent

The Fast of the Lord

January 20, 2014

 

The Fast of the Lord


Isaiah 58:3-11

Wherefore have we fasted, [say they], and thou seest not? [wherefore] have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours. Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye shall not fast as [ye do this] day, to make your voice to be heard on high Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? [is it] to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes [under him]? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the LORD? [Is] not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? [Is it] not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? 

 Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy rereward Then shalt thou call, and the LORD shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I [am]. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity; And [if] thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness [be] as the noonday And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not. 


Isaiah 58 is a good chapter to take and read in its entirety.  We have quoted enough here to give us some of the meat of what it is saying.  Many of us consider ourselves religious or spiritual. We profess to love God, we may have our set times to pray, read the bible, fast, go to church or other such spiritual activities we do in the name of the Lord for Him.  If we are doing all of these things to seek God and please Him, then we may ask, like the people of God in that day, “Lord, why don’t you hear our prayers and answer them?  We serve you, but we aren’t blessed.  How come you don’t acknowledge all of our efforts Lord?”  

He may in turn ask us, ” If you do all of these activities and things to seek and please me then why are your lives no different than those of the world around you?  Why is it you yell and argue with your family all the way to church and then come in to praise Me?  Why is it you fast and pray and then get up off of your knees to go and do your own pleasure?  Why is it you go to church, but are angry with the minister if he doesn’t get you out in time to beat the rush to the restaurant or see the sports game on TV?”   Could it be that a lot of our spirituality is phoniness and hypocrisy done more to make us feel like we have done our duty to God than doing what really pleases God.  If we want God to meet us in a greater way than He has before then it isn’t God that has to change, it is us, and more religious activity isn’t the answer.  

God takes the time in this passage to tell us where His heart is and what is meaningful to Him.  He tells us to do such things as “loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and let the oppressed go free, and that ye break the yoke?”  What does all of that mean?  Could it mean that we are outwardly spiritual, but inwardly wicked?  We talk down to people, we talk about people in a demeaning way, and we’re critical, hateful, judgmental, gossips, backbiters and controllers.  We may want to put all of our baggage, laws, rules and standards upon others when we can’t even live up to them ourselves.  How often do we do things for others in the guise of being so nice and generous to help them out and then turn around and hold those things we gave or did for them as a yoke to control and manipulate them?  There are times we give or loan things to people and they can’t pay them back.  Sometimes we need to just release those debts and forgive them even as God forgave ours.  We can be cruel taskmasters to one another and to others.  When the world looks at that, are they seeing Christ?  Could it be that God wants us to quit being above others and treating others, that don’t have what we have in areas, as inferior and as servants?  Maybe it is time we become like Christ, to use what we have, to get under them to lift and build them up, to be their servants rather than them being ours.  

God goes on to tell us if you really want my blessing then you need to care about the things I care about.  Are you clothing the naked and feeding the hungry?  Are you visiting those in prisons, nursing homes, jails and shut-ins?  Are you even really taking care of your own family and making sure they have not only their physical needs met, but their emotional and spiritual needs met?  Are you spending the time you need to with them and nurturing them?  Are we pointing our finger in judgement and condemnation of others while we ignore the other three that are pointing back at us?  

When we start getting the heart of God then will we begin to hear from God and see His blessing.  This is the true fast of the Lord.  It is not about going to church, it is about being “the Church.”  We have to become in lifestyle and practice what many of us now only pretend to be.  We have a form of godliness, but we deny the power of it.   God despises pompous, pretentious spiritual pretenders.  I have been there more than I like to admit, how about you?  If we are going to have the real thing then everything we do has be about the Lord and what honors and pleases Him.  Ouch!  That’s pretty tough on my flesh, but then I said I reckoned it dead with Christ, so what’s my problem?  My problem is always “I.”  The more it is there the less effective I can be for God, because the less of Him that is in me.  It is only the death of self that can give place to the life of God.  This is the true Fast.  

 
Blessings,
kent
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